Paradox in poetry serves to create tension in the readers' minds by placing words or phrases together so that they first do not seem to follow the rules of logic or accepted truth. This use of contradiction in language often causes an audience to think on a deeper level about the implied meaning of such a contradictory statement. Authors who effectively use paradoxical wording reveal some element of truth within an apparently untrue statement. Paradox is sometimes structured differently in poetry than in prose literature, and it can often have multiple layers of meaning expressed in fewer words.
Poetry writers usually employ paradox to create an unusual thought or visual image with words. The same words would often otherwise read as ordinary and unremarkable when placed in a different combination or context. Some types of paradox in poetry are meant to convey a tone of irony as well as lead to reader contemplation on the subject of a certain poem. This kind of irony from a paradoxical poem normally generates feelings of intrigue in readers' minds and causes them to read with a greater amount of focus as well as a deeper level of contemplation.
Certain uses of paradox in poetic works form the distinctive characteristics that set a given poem apart from others. These written contradictions can be as simple as short phrases or as complex as multiple extended verses with intricate metric schemes. Long and extended narrative poems sometimes contain many paradoxes within the same work of literature. Paradoxes may also consist of experimentation with terms that describe states of being or of perception itself. Poets who write with these kinds of phrases sometimes raise questions in their readers' minds concerning what entails a state of existence or other types of related philosophical topics.
Figures of speech have an important role as part of the use of paradox in poetry. These kinds of lines in a poem can serve as words of wisdom or as insightful statements about various general aspects of life. A contradictory statement in a well-crafted paradoxical poem is often quite different from a more general saying such as an aphorism, and its meaning is usually deeper and its wording is more intricate. The purpose of this kind of paradox in poetry is not to communicate a widely-accepted truth but to convey an idea that readers normally do not consider during their day-to-day lives.