This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Transcendent Synesthetic Poetry of Octavio Paz




Cortez, Lionel

Type of Degree



Foreign Language and Literature


During his life and even after, the poetry of Mexican poet and 1990 Nobel Prize winner, Octavio Paz, has provided academic fodder for many critics, teachers and students. The lyrical nature and open structures of poetry lend themselves to a myriad of interpretations and theories, and Paz’s poetry is no exception. Paz encouraged this diversity of understanding. The writing styles and poetics of Paz challenge commonplace interpretations of what is perceived in the physical world and the navigation thereof. He often blends contrasting images and ideas, and even fuses the senses to dissuade the reader from a single interpretation, thus encouraging a plurality of approaches to a poem. This crossing of the senses is a literary device known as poetic synesthesia. Frequently (prominently in the Baroque and Modernist eras), writers employ synesthesia in lyrical poetry to call the reader’s attention through sensorial destabilization of the object described. However, Paz takes synesthesia a step further and uses it for a deeper purpose, one that encapsulates his poetics. Paz believes that poetry could lead a reader to a perceptual and spiritual transcendence. By bending perception and manipulating the senses, Paz invites his readers to experience poetic transcendence with him.