"Mysterious, beautiful" from the poem "The Wild Swans at Coole" - which type of rhetorical figure it is? Is it a epigram?

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

I am not able to understand when we can say a sentence is an epigram. Please give some examples if possible.


1 Answer 1


The phrase “Mysterious, beautiful” is an example of parataxis. Parataxis is a rhetorical figure where phrases or clauses are placed side by side without any conjunctions or connecting words. In this case, Yeats uses the parataxis to convey the observation of the swans’ beauty and mystery.

An epigram is a concise and memorable saying that often conveys a complex idea, adds humor, or provides a twist at the end. Hard to argue that “Mysterious, beautiful” in the context of Yeats poem meets that definition.

Some good examples of an epigrams:

“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.” - Albert Einstein

“I can resist everything except temptation.” - Oscar Wilde

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