Shawn quotes a paper on Stein's use of repetition.

Following up on Kirsten's great poem and this discussion, here is an
excerpt from a paper I am currently graded (author anonymous unless
self-identified).  This person does a great job of showing how Stein's
repetitions make us go back and continually rethink our understanding of

"However, when a word is said more than once in a row, we suddenly start
thinking about that word and its connotations.  In Stein's poem "If I Told
Him (A Completed Portrait of Pablo Picasso)," she breaks the "portrait"
down into smaller, more detailed elements.  When she stresses a word
multiple times, the reader/listener (consciously or otherwise) puts more
emphasis on the word than he/she might have otherwise.  Instead of
realizing that aspect of the poem and moving on, we pause and think about
what the word could mean.  For example, the first time she mentions
Napoleon, it's natural for the reader to automatically think she's making
a historical reference and then move on to the rest of the poem.  
However, Stein goes on to continuously mention Napoleon and wonder "Would
he like it?"  The reader then thinks more about Napoleon.  Is she
comparing him to Picasso?  How?  Is she comparing his importance
politically?  Socially? Is she comparing the "revolution" (figurative or
actual) each brought about? Maybe all of these.  After all, as the Norton
anthology quotes in its headnote on the author, Stein said "I never
repeat" (Ellmann 237).  Maybe, with each mention of the name, Stein is
introducing another of these elements."

This is a good description of how repetition can disrupt in the context of
poetry, where we assume that each word demands active attention and
deliberation over meaning.  Stein, by repeating, forces us to reconsider
the meaning of her words, question whether we've "understood."  After so
much questioning, after we've come up with a possible meaning and Stein
brings up the word again and again in new contexts, we begin to "unthink,"
to undo the meanings we've tried to make fit.  A limitness number of
possibilities is no possibility.

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