Poem with an explanation: They all said the same

They all said the same,
“Stand bright and tall,
and as you do,
the birds will call.”

So hearing the words,
the squirrel did try,
it flapped its arms,
and tried to fly.

And looking to,
the trees so tall,
the squirrel did listen,
for the sparrows’ call.

But songs of joy,
it did not hear,
it was something else,
much like a jeer.

The sparrows sang out,
but the squirrel they did mock,
and there the squirrel stood,
so filled with shock.

The sparrows did laugh,
and jokes they did tell,
they poked at the squirrel,
and its countenance fell.

They said it was silly,
why did it try,
it was a squirrel,
and would never fly.

And the squirrel ran off,
and hid in the trees,
it started to cry,
and fell to its knees.

It then look at those,
who all said the same,
and asked them why,
but did not blame.

And they all stood,
with no words to say,
they thought they were right,
before that day.

And in the quiet,
the squirrel had a thought,
it would not try,
no matter what they taught.

 

This poem takes a look at a potential negative outcome that can come from well-meaning social advice.

In society, there is the well-meaning social advice that a person should put themselves out there.  That if a person wants to do something different, that they should and that their peers will support them.  This poem looks at a situation in which the positive outcome purported by the advice, does not come true.

In the poem, a squirrel wants to try to fly.  It encounters other animals in the first stanza that tell it, it should try this.  They say that if it does, that the birds who see, will support it.

In the second stanza, the squirrel goes into a clearing in the trees, stands in the middle, and tries to fly.

In the third stanza, the squirrel looks to the trees expecting to hear the birds cheer for it.

In the fourth stanza, the squirrel hears the birds, but instead of cheering the squirrel, they are making fun of it.

In the fifth stanza, the sparrows mock the squirrel’s attempt at flight and the squirrel is surprised by this.

In the sixth stanza, the sparrows laugh at the squirrel, tell jokes at its expense and poke fun at it.  This saddens the squirrel.

In the seventh stanza, the sparrows say the squirrel was silly, and that it would never fly.

In the eighth stanza, the squirrel is very embarrassed and sad.  It runs away, hides, and cries.

In the ninth stanza, the squirrel encounters the animals who gave it the advice.  It asks them why this happened, but does not blame them.

In the tenth stanza, the other animals are speechless.  They thought their advice was good; they thought it was well meaning.

In the eleventh stanza, the squirrel decides that it will no longer put itself out there in social situations.

The idea of this poem is to take a look at what sometimes can be a harsh reality.  Sometimes, when a person does something different, instead of encountering praise from their peers, they encounter ridicule.

Of course the ridicule is wrong, and the poem does not mean to imply that a person should not ever put themselves out there and do something different.  It rather, examines a situation, where this does not work out.  It examines a situation in which the positive view of the advice, does not match the negative reality that was encountered.

An example situation in life might be a person who wants to sew their own sweater.  They talk to some people about this who say it is a great idea and that their friends will support what they do.  The person takes the advice and sews the sweater.  When they wear it in front of their friends though, instead of their friends applauding what they did, they make fun of it.  They make fun of the appearance of the sweater, of the mistakes made in sewing it, and of the person making their own clothes.  The idealized outcome of the advice, did not match the reality the person encountered.

Poem with an explanation: the mirror of many years ago

looking into the mirror
of many years ago
and wishing to speak
so the words would be different

 

This poem is about the idea of a person talking to their past self.  It is based off of the thought that people sometimes have where they wonder what they would tell their past self so that their current life would be different than it is.

In the poem, the person is looking at a photograph of themselves.  The photograph is “the mirror of many years ago” in the poem.  When a person looks at a photograph of themselves, it is like they are looking into a mirror, except the image is from the past.

As the person looks at themselves, they wish they could give their past self advice (and wishing to speak).  They want to give their past self advice so that their current situation would be different.  In other words, they would tell their past self to make different decisions than they themselves actually did.

If the person were able to do this, and their past self took the advice, then they would be currently living a different life.  If that were so, the words they would say to their past self when they look at their photograph would be different than the words that they said at this time (so the words would be different).  They wouldn’t be giving their past self advice, at least they hope, rather they would be telling their past self that they made the right decisions.

This poem is about looking back on the past and wishing it were somehow different.

Bilingual Poem: Those who have been there, Those who are going there

There are those,
who have been there,
who speak to those,
who are going there.

Those,
who are going there,
say they are different,
than those,
who have been there,
and therefore,
have no need,
to hear their words.

Those,
who have been there,
then look upon,
those who are going there,
and say,
that they said,
the same thing,
when those,
who have been there,
spoke to them.

The time changes,
and the places change,
and those who have now been there,
begin to speak,
to those who are going there.

 

Hay esos,
que estuvieron ahí,
que hablan a esos,
hay yendo ahí.

Esos,
hay yendo ahí,
hablan estar distinto,
que esos,
que estuvieron ahí,
y por lo tanto,
no tienen necesidad,
eschuar sus palabras.

Esos,
que estuvieron ahí,
entonces miran en,
esos hay yendo ahí,
y hablan,
que hablaron,
el mismo asunto,
cuándo esos,
que estuvieron ahí,
hablaron a ellos.

El tiempo cambia,
y los lugares cambian,
y esos que ahora estuvieron ahí,
empiezan hablar,
a esos hay yendo ahí.

Poem with an explanation: Why not wear blue?

“Why not wear blue?”

“Because it wouldn’t work.”

“Have you tried it?”

“No, but why would a person try that?  It wouldn’t work.”

“How do you know unless you try?”

“You could justify any idea with that.”

“Just give it a try.”

“Just to prove it doesn’t work?”

“You don’t know that.”

“It’s obvious.”

“You just don’t want to succeed.”

“You just keep criticizing when your advice isn’t taken.”

“If you really wanted to change you would try it.”

“Just go away.”

 

This poem is a simplification of a conversation between two people.  In the poem one person has something about themselves they have been trying to change for some time.  It could be losing weight, for example.

The person has been working toward this goal for some time, with little success.  Because of this, people have started giving them advice.  Having heard what they consider to be random and bad advice too many times, the person gets frustrated when they hear it.  The people giving advice, viewing themselves as just wanting to help, wonder why their advice isn’t being followed, and since it isn’t being followed, they question the level of motivation of the other person.  The conversations come with frustration, and generally follow the pattern of the poem.

In the first line of the poem, the advice giver gives some piece of advice.  They heard it somewhere.  Maybe on a morning news show or from a magazine.  A celebrity said it.  The advice giver values this kind of advice.

The person with the situation, says that the advice wouldn’t work.  They view the advice as random.  They have a disdain for “tips and tricks” types of advice.  Having struggled to make a change, they view advice that claims to make things easy with suspicion.

The person giving the advice then questions the other person.  They ask if they have tried the advice.  They are implying a way of thinking that they will ask later, “How does a person know something won’t work unless they’ve tried it.”

The person with the situation responds by basically stating that the advice is bad.

The other person then states their advice philosophy, “How do you know unless you try?”

The one with the situation though resents this idea.  Having heard, from their perspective, all sorts of outlandish and random advice, they view this with resentment.  Their rebuttal is to extend the philosophy.  They say that if the only way to know if something works is to try it, then that would justify trying anything, no matter how absurd it might be.

The advice giver doesn’t see things that way though.  As far as they are concerned, they got the advice from a source they trust.  Also, they view the advice as harmless.  They feel that if it works, things will be better, and if it doesn’t, little will be lost.

This though makes the person with the situation more frustrated.  They feel like they are constantly being called upon to prove bad advice doesn’t work.  They feel like they have been repeatedly given bad advice and then asked to test it out.  They are tired of it.

The advice giver though, holds on to the idea that a person can’t really know if something works or not, unless they try it.

The person with the situation though sees this as a faulty way of thinking.  To them the advice is obviously bad, and there is no reason to go through the motion of proving it just to satisfy someone else.

At this point, the advice giver themselves becomes frustrated.  Because the person with the situation won’t take what they think is good advice, they question the person’s motivation to succeed.  They are basically thinking that if the person does not want to take their advice, the only reason must be that the person does not really want to change.

The person with the situation though resents this.  As far as they are concerned, this is a pattern they have heard before.  They get bad advice, they don’t take it, and they are criticized for it.  They are tired of getting what they perceive to be weird and random suggestions, and then being criticized for not following them.

The person giving the advice comes back to their refrain.  They hold onto the idea that advice that seems harmless should be tried.  They can’t see what it would hurt.

The other person, being tired of the conversation and of constantly feeling like they have to defend their actions, tells the person to go away.

This poem is about what may be a familiar situation in life, that of giving and getting advice.  It examines the idea of advice being given over an extended period of time.  It looks at the different points of view and the frustration.

P. S. If you like poems with explanations, consider purchasing a copy of Understanding: poems with explanations.