I am very grateful for each and every comment received. The following is a short list of some ideas and explanations in response to pretentious malady's review. Please remember, though, that these interpretations are not your own. Part of the point of this poem is that everyone can and should seek their own understandings of the world.

"Words/language is merely a shadow and symbols represent something – is what casts the shadow and what the symbols represent the same thing?"

Language is comprised of symbols; in and of itself, language is nothing but shapes, sounds, etc. Symbols are merely representations; these are also nothing in and of themselves. However, once we take into account the symbolized, we have meaning—we have something. Symbols point us towards the symbolized but are never truly the symbolized. Language, acting symbolically, thus becomes the shadow of the symbolized. So, to answer your question, that is basically correct; the shadow-caster and the symbolized are the same thing, but we can ever only see these things because of their shadows.

Like language, symbols are nothing, really. However, do not take this to mean that language and symbols are the same thing. Symbols can exist outside of language. The color red is often a signal with 'danger,' 'heat,' 'passion,' or something else being the signified—symbol and symbolized, signifier and signified.

"Language confines the world to symbols – so shadows confine things to representations?"

Yes and no. I specifically chose the term "shadow" for its nebulous meaning; shadows are often incoherent and seemingly uncontained. Generally, the outlines of shadows are not all that specific. So in this sense, no, the shadows are not meant to confine things to representations.

On the other hand, human beings do not have many ways of expressing the symbolized (see above) other than through language—through shadows. We lack the capacity to actually specify certain things, like love and truth and God, so we must resort to recognizing representations of these things, almost like defining by examples. At our current level of existence/reality, we have no means to define these things other than by pointing to examples that are similar but not truly/specifically these things—in other words, what they are like but, ultimately, what they are not. And so in this sense, yes, the shadows do confine things to representations.

The God/creator/father/serpent/writer of this poem is attempting to transcend the shadows by using shadows. He attempts to give the girl/daughter/Noah/Eve the ability to understand not only the symbols but the symbolized as well.

"Starting off by saying that love is beyond language – but defined by what it is not – so, in the end, is it the definition that is the shadow?"

Yes. Truly, love has no universal definition—which therefore makes this statement false—which in turn makes that statement false—which in turn makes that statement false—and so on, and so on. Paradox. The God/creator/father/serpent/writer is restricted to the laws of his reality, this particular poem. He can only communicate via language. But if love is beyond language, then any definition (including that one) is insufficient due to its reliance on the medium of words.

One thing I find myself asking is, do these "universal forms," the symbolized, the casters of the shadows, exist beyond the human psyche? Or have we constructed them? If they exist, why do they exist? How did they come into being? Is there some divine creator? How did the divine creator come into being? If we have constructed them, why have we constructed them? Do they help explain biological/chemical interactions in our brain? Are they caused by such interactions? Are we therefore living in a delusion? What else have we constructed? If we have constructed formless things, have we constructed nothingness? If we have constructed nothingness, what could be not construct?

Perhaps those questions are a little too involved. But I still pose the original: do these things exist beyond us, or are they constructed by our psyches?