Oxymorons can convey huge details

The word oxymoron is taken from the Greek oxymoros, and can be literally translated as “pointedly foolish” or “wisely foolish.” So, the word itself is actually an oxymoron, because it has come to mean a group of words that are logically incongruous or self-contradictory; nonetheless, they still make sense.

That same definition could describe a paradox, as well. An oxymoron differs from a paradox in that it is used intentionally for rhetorical effect. The most common oxymorons use an adjective-noun combination, such as “jumbo shrimp” or “old news.” Many of the words used in poetry are oxymoronic. For example, the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, in his great, epic poem, “Idylls Of The King,” writes, “And faithful unfaithful keeps him falsely true.”

Perhaps oxymorons exist to remind us that the person who lives without foolishness today is not as wise as they think they are. The words tell us that in life, we find wisdom often mixed up with foolishness, and that there is a fine line between the two. Sometimes, the wise person does in the beginning what the fool does in the end, because the wiser will learn from their previous mistakes and everyone else’s, too.

The best record of this can be found in the Book of Proverbs, one of the wisdom books of the Bible. Proverbs can be called a poetical book of practical wisdom and foolishness. It gives insight into ordinary human experience, behavior and situations, as relevant today for our lives as it was for people thousands of years ago. The Book Of Proverbs poetically contrasts two forms of behavior, one leading to wisdom and the other to foolishness.

Finally, many poems are written by people who have fallen in love and become inspired to write romantic poetry to their beloved. That just proves out the old saying, “Only fools fall in love.” What follows is a poem filled with oxymorons. Can you find them all?

Foolish Wisdom

By Michael Hickey

I love, therefore,

I am a fool.

And because I am

a fool; I love.

Sometime it feels

Awfully good,

But loving has made me

No better than clean dirt.

There are even odds,

I am absolutely unsure,

That this could even be

Just foolish wisdom;

As loving is always,

Bitter sweet,

A definite maybe,

Clearly ambiguous.

Now and then,

It can get pretty ugly,

Turn you inside out,

And upside down.

If one has bad luck,

It can even be holy hell,

Make you say,

never again!

With a blind eye I search

For some unknown


With all the confident fear

Of an imperfect saint.

Once again, I turn to God

For an unbiased opinion;

We are all alone together,

Conversing beyond infinity;

S/he secretly tells me,

“Expect the unexpected.”

Nothing more after that;

Just deafening silence.

Michael Hickey is a local writer and poet who lives in Pelican Bay and Swampscott, Mass. His book, “Get Wisdom,” is published by Xlibris Div. of Random House Publishing, available at 1-888-795-4274 Ext. 822, www.Xlibris.com, or your local bookstore.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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