“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.”
“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.