* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


by Octavio Paz

Proem Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

For being about poetry, "Proem" is pretty loosey-goosey. It doesn't rhyme, it doesn't have a regular meter, and doesn't really follow any poetic structures. Maybe that's part of why some people con...


Speaker, we hardly knew thee! We really don't get much info on the poetic speaker in "Proem." There's no "I" or "you"—the whole thing is very impersonal, really. However, the speaker sure knows a...


It's hard to say where this poem takes place geographically. It probably has more to do with a dreamland, or that subconscious place where poems come from. We don't get any concrete references to a...

Sound Check

The poem has a really smooth, dreamy sound, almost like what you might hear if you happened to stumble upon Octavio Paz talking in his sleep. How does he get this effect? Repeat after us: repetitio...

What's Up With the Title?

Prose + Poem = "Proem." Get it? Got it? Good. But hold up there. That's not the end of the story. Is this "proem" really a prose poem? It isn't written in verse, but it does have the line breaks, r...

Calling Card

Octavio Paz was a very well educated man, and he let his writing show it off. He uses big words and makes references to Greek philosophy, like Plato and Epicurus. However, as a Mexican intelle...


Don't worry if you get tripped up in all those poetic "vertigos" and lose your sense of up and down while you're making this climb. Paz throws in a lot of mysterious references to ancient figures a...


When Paz won the Nobel Prize, the committee cited another poem he wrote about poetry as part of its motivation in giving him the award. (Source.) Octavio Paz liked the French surrealists because th...

Steaminess Rating

Nothing to see here, folks. There's some talk about love in the second-to-last line, but it's all really abstract and more in love with love than with any possible lovers.


Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher who ran a philosophy called the Garden (9)Netzahualcoyotl, king of the Texcoco city-state in pre-Hispanic Mexico who was also a philosopher and poet (9)Vicente H...

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Noodle's College Search