The Five Listeners

I am saying this just once.
Please listen well.
If you wish to hear my words
I ask, in turn:

The First Listener

Try, if you can, not to merely understand
their signal properties.
For you to whom this proves to be a hardship
I offer honest, heartfelt sympathy.

The Second Listener

To you, my words are these:
Do not agree with everything I say,
not for love, nor out of deference,
nor from obsequiousness,
nor out of false propriety.
You must agree to question me.

The Third Listener

And you – why do you question
each and every sentence that I form?
From some untamed recalcitrance,
or from inborn adversity,
from downright animosity, or scorn?
You, too, might criticize –
but with reason, please, and rationality.

The Fourth Listener

To you I will say this:
Do not, I urge you, apply the biases which live
within your mind
unconsciously to what you hear,
usurping what is said
according to the standards of your own prehension.
Listen with impartiality, discrimination.

The Fifth Listener

To you, do not, I say,
listen with malign intent, preparing
to distort and amplify,
and work your spiteful calumnies
upon the minds of others.
For you I hold the uttermost contempt.

From ‘Memories, Moods, Reflections’

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