This short essay makes inquiries and observations about how Norman O. Brown understands the confluence of poetry and prophecy, especially concerning the sorts of language he associates with “prophetic” poetry. Specifically, the essay attempts to identify more clearly the particular features of the diction of prophetic poetry, as Brown conceives it, and how it relates to the expressive substance of his own diction in the innovative critical texts he produced. The diction of Brown's own “prophetic” texts can be at once libertine and bossy, silly and imposing, initiatory and constraining. The alternation in Brown's texts between didactic assertion, libertine refrains, and borrowed scraps of obscure patois, embodies the violent oscillation of prophetic language, as Brown conceives it, which veers between elevated and vernacular registers of language.

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