Granted in daily speech

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“Granted, in daily speech, where we don't stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like "the ordinary world," "ordinary life," "the ordinary course of events"... But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone's existence in this world.” (Szymborska, 1996)

The life is passing before our very own eyes. Unnoticed, not cared of. Who cares whether the last leaf from the cherry tree in front of one's house has fallen down; whether and how, if at all, the sky reflects in the puddles just after the rain? All those things are not important as long as they do not interfere in any way with one's life. There are more important things than the raindrop which gives birth to the rainbow or a cat in the empty apartment. Nonetheless, in this world, there are people who see those things differently, who actually see them and seek for the hidden dimensions within them.


Who, as someone once said, in the childlike excitement recreate the world, getting to the bottom of things, squeezing essence out of them and serving like nectar to tired and inattentive ones. By pointing the smallest particles and cogs in the machinery of world, they make one aware of the existence, existence of unnoticed things and relations.

In this essay the main focus would be on poetry and the means used by poets in order to “intensify our apprehension of the sense of things”. Wisława Szymborska's The Onion (1998) and e. e. cummings' l(a (1981) will provide an example of the usage of literary tools facilitating this aim.

What a poet does is to remove objects (in the broadest meaning of this word) from everyday life, put them on a Petri dish and examine. Taking it piece by piece, word by word, meaning by meaning poetry deconstructs the world and then reinstates it in the new frame, ad nauseam attaching new connotations, bringing the less obvious ones to light and in the act of creation/re-creation almost building a parallel, to ours, universe

Cummings and Szymborska, both decided to turn everyday objects into the subjects of their poems. A leaf and an onion. What can be more undervalued and underrated in terms of the artistic expression potency? Probably, not many things. Nonetheless, both poets managed to get the best out of them and draw our attention to those relatively unattractive items which, usually, would be considered too ‘normal' to become subject of art. In poetry, language, alongside reality, is bent, perverted and played with. Let's see what means of expression may a poet use to engage a reader and make one think.

As some critics say the poetry is nothing else but a mind landscape painted with words, some others claim that the additional meaning may be conveyed through the graphic realisation of language and the text organisation.

Any deviations from the casual syntax or flouting any rules of grammar may draw our attention to the subject of the poem; therefore, we do not perceive this move as a mistake but rather as a signifier, marker of something really important, of another deeper dimension within the text.

That is why Szymborska breaks her lines in order to marry the final words in rhymes and to tidy the internal rhythm of the text up. She's playing with language – finding words in words, creating new ones. The play does not limit itself to the semantic features of words but involves melodic structure of the poem as well: alliterations, gathering similar consonants in one place - (creating almost a tongue twister), even juggling with homophones at some point. But be not deceived by the joyous poetic and linguistic enthusiasm – the poem touches deeper than it looks. Human complexity is brought against the onion which in its pompous perfection of simplicity is ridiculed by diminishing through usage of language.

Cummings, famous for his linguistic gymnastics, is way more economical with words and he takes the wordplay a couple of steps further. He does not play with words; he dissects them and reveals the hidden dimensions within rather than seeks for the external ones; he tries and experiments with how the word can be reorganized in itself to convey what he anticipated.

First of all, when we unfold this so-complex-and-incomprehensible-at-the-first-sight poem it would read:

Loneliness (A Leaf Falls)

In the most condensed form he managed to show the essence of loneliness. Not only through the words but also through their absence. The feeling has been caught in not more than four words. There is no need for more as that is what loneliness is about.

In such a short form he managed to bring to light the essence of solitude. Oneness. Because, first of all, what can be lonelier than a falling leaf (even in the autumn); secondly, what was achieved by the way in which this thought has been organised, indubitably, intensifies the feeling; creates the claustrophobic world from which there is no escape.

It, possibly, can be argued that oneness, in all its shapes, becomes a leitmotif of this text. Let's look closer at how cummings broke the words and what he achieved.

The first thing that springs to mind is that the poem starts with two French definite articles la and le. Both being indicators of the singular and determiners of grammatical gender. Two opposite poles of the same singularity. Almost as a confirmation of this argument two mirrored syllables follow af-fa.

Then the one itself appears in the body of the poem a couple of times. First and the most obvious is written in line 7 in a word form but then the poet played with the typographical features of fonts – where “l” looks almost like “1” and in such a form it appears couple of times throughout the poem.

Even if he “[proved] once and for all that rhythm and meter, and even sound, are not indispensable in poetry” (p.101, Vendler,1973) he found another way of how to draw reader's attention. One would believe that him being a painter, as well as a poet, was of great importance. “Cummings' iconoclastic mind must have revealed in his avant-garde visual arrangements, while his painter's eye sensed their satisfying punning contours: [...]” (p.101, Vendler,1973). If this thought can be pushed a little bit further – in the graphic form of the discussed poem we will be able to see the trajectory of a falling leaf.

As we have seen, poets by engaging their readers through different channels whether it is aural through rhymes, meter; visual through poem's layout or kinaesthetic by active engagement with language – inventing neologisms or using non-standard syntax – impose on them some of their experiences and allows the readers “[t]o see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand / And Eternity in an Hour” and after that, let me repeat after Szymborska, “nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it.” (1996)

All the references will be to the English translation as the translators not only preserved vast majority of prosodic features of the original text but also managed to engage not only the language but with the language on the same level as the poet did;

Shall we consider poets being, unconscious and unintentional, pioneers, foreparents and very first poststructuralists then?

For this very reason some believe that advertising – copywriting – became a modern incarnation of poetry.

Their Compound Meanings.

Usually, the text organisation – layout on the page – is one of the primary, and undoubtedly the most visible, features distinguishing poetry from other forms of written expression i.e. prose


i.e.: onionesque, onionoid

internal inferno; anathema of anatomy; secretions' secret section

onionymous monomania,

unanimous omninudity

peace - piece

It almost reminds haiku with its metaphysics of everyday experience.

When using a serif typeface

Unfortunately, I do not remember in which book I have read it, therefore i cannot provide a source of this thought.

If we wanted to group it by channels proposed in the NLP theory.

William Blake, Auguries of Innocence.