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Joseph Grijalva  Section:  5

Date:  2/23/05

Title:  Listening

Author:  Unknown


Context (When/Where FOund?  Why Looking? " Overview," )


        I found this poem on, an online poetry archive of both famous and amateur poetry.  The fact that the author of this poem is unknown gives it character.  The reader does not know what background or training the author is coming from, and can therefore consider the idea that profound and poetic thoughts can come form from anywhere. 

Content/CD (Say? " Plot?" Setting/Situation? Key lines/phrases.)


      The poem does not contain a plot and is set up as a freestyle reflection or a conversation between two people. 



Content/CM (Meaning?  Theme(s)?  Study Q's?)


        It is fairly obvious from the popularity of television shows such as " Doctor Phil" , that advise giving is big business.  Most people who have to admit that they are quick to share their views when people come to them with problems.  However, sometimes what people really want when they come to someone else to discuss their problems, is sometimes to hear them.  This method of listening is the topic of the poem " Please Listen" .  The author  discusses how he (the author will be referred to as a " he" for simplicity purposes) he has observed the tendency of people to jump to advice giving with lines like,  " When I ask you to listen to me, and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I said."   He goes on to express his belief that " advice is cheap" , mentioning " Dear Abby" and another newspaper advice column.  The author has a good point in this regard.  After-all, how is someone that a person has never met, and has no idea of the inner workings of that persons relationships and life, supposed to give them advice for dealing with the most complex situations in their lives.

        The author also makes mention of another interesting idea.  He says, " When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy."   Basically this statement tells the reader that we should not allow others to become dependent upon us.  After all if a person has had every task in his or her life completed by someone else, that person would be afraid to try to do anything on his or her own and would be helpless if their support was to be taken away. 


Form (Diction? Construction Terms?  Symbolisms?)


        " Please listen is organized into one giant paragraph containing several sentences.  The poem takes place in the form of a person talking to someone else about listening.  Interestingly, the person reading the poem must have some clue on how to listen already in order to fully appreciate the poems meaning.

Commentary *What do you want to say?  Why like?  Dislike?  Relevance (to personal literature/other poetry, 20Q's? etc.)?


        I found this poem to be particularly enjoyable.  The author hit the meaning of " listening" right on the nose.  If someone wants advice, then they will ask for it, but most times people just want to take a load off their chest.  Also the author made a good point in his discussion of why prayer proves so valuable to some people.  God is the perfect listener, he never gives advice, never ties of listening, and knows that we must help ourselves in order for him to help us.

Please Listen
Author Unknown

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn't feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don't talk or do---just hear me.
Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what's behind
this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are
obvious and I don't need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what's behind them.
Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes,
for some people---because God is mute,
and he doesn't give advice or try
to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work
it out for yourself.
So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn---and I will listen to you.