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Wind, Water, Stone

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for Roger Caillois

Water hollows stone,
wind scatters water,
stone stops the wind.
Water, wind, stone.

Wind carves stone,
stone's a cup of water,
water escapes and is wind.
Stone, wind, water.

Wind sings in its whirling,
water murmurs going by,
unmoving stone keeps still.
Wind, water, stone.

Each is another and no other:
crossing and vanishing
through their empty names:
water, stone, wind.

Octavio Paz, "Wind, Water, Stone" from The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987. Copyright © 1979 by Octavio Paz.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1987)
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Wind, Water, Stone

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  • Often nominated for the Nobel Prize in his lifetime, 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 Timescontributor 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...

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