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Between What I See and What I Say . . .for Roman Jakobson by Octavio Paz

December 27, 1987

Between what I see and what I say, between what I say and what I keep silent, between what I keep silent and what I dream, between what I dream and what I forget: poetry.

It slips between yes and no,

says what I keep silent,

keeps silent what I say,

dreams what I forget.

It is not speech: it is an act.

It is an act of speech.

Poetry speaks and listens:

it is real, And as soon as I say

it is real,

it vanishes.

Is it then more real? Tangible idea,

intangible word:

poetry comes and goes

between what is and what is not.

It weaves and unweaves reflections.

Poetry scatters eyes on a page, scatters words on our eyes. Eyes speak,

words look, looks think.

To hear thoughts,

see what we say,

touch the body of an idea. Eyes close, the words open. From "The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz" (see review, Page 3). Paz wrote this poem for a memorial to critic and linguist Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) at M.I.T.

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