Octavio Paz


Mexican author Octavio Paz enjoyed a worldwide reputation as a master poet and essayist. Although Mexico figures prominently in Paz’s work—one of his best-known books, The Labyrinth of Solitude, for example, is a comprehensive portrait of Mexican society—Los Angeles Times contributor Jascha Kessler called Paz “truly international.” World Literature Today’s Manuel Duran felt that Paz’s “exploration of Mexican existential values permit[ted] him to open a door to an understanding of other countries and other cultures” and thus appeal to readers of diverse backgrounds. “What began as a slow, almost microscopic examination of self and of a single cultural tradition widens unexpectedly,” Duran continued, “becoming universal without sacrificing its unique characteristic.” Paz won the Nobel Prize in 1990, and died eight years later at the age of 84. His passing was mourned as the end of an era for Mexico. According to his obituary in Americas, “Paz’s literary career helped to define modern poetry and the Mexican personality.” Source


translated by Charles Tomlinson


If it is real the white

Light from this lamp, real

The writing hand, are they

Real, the eyes looking at what I write?


From one word to the other

What I say vanishes.

I know that I am alive

Between two parentheses.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Ars Poetica


Literary Devices:

Internal Rhyme

A rhyme involving a word in the middle of a line and another at the end of the line or in the middle of the next.

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered