By David Ignatow 1914–1997 David Ignatow
You wept in your mother's arms   
and I knew that from then on   
I was to forget myself.

Listening to your sobs,
I was resolved against my will   
to do well by us
and so I said, without thinking,   
in great panic, To do wrong   
in one's own judgment,
though others thrive by it,
is the right road to blessedness.   
Not to submit to error
is in itself wrong
and pride.

Standing beside you,
I took an oath
to make your life simpler   
by complicating mine
and what I always thought   
would happen did:
I was lifted up in joy.

David Ignatow, “Listening” from I Have a Name. Copyright © 1996 by David Ignatow. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Poetry (February 1987).


This poem originally appeared in the February 1987 issue of Poetry magazine

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February 1987
 David  Ignatow


David Ignatow is remembered as a poet who wrote popular verse about the common man and the issues encountered in daily life. In all, he wrote or edited more than twenty-five books and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Prize and Robert Frost Medal, the Bollingen Prize, and the John Steinbeck Award. Early in his career he worked in a butcher shop. He also helped out in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Living, Parenthood, Romantic Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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