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Listening

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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 (Wesleyan University Press, 1996)

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

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Listening

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