Sunday, October 24, 2021



(Not sure if this post should be headed Readers Write, Poetry Spot or both, so I am calling it Reader Writes About Poetry . . . )


Last week’s Poetry Spot contained 2 poems about doing things straightaway.

The first poem, by an anonymous author, contained the lines:

We are often greatly bothered
By two fussy little men,
Who sometimes block our pathway –
Their names are How and When.

The poems inspired Byter Rob T to send me an email with some like items. it being noted for the record that I received his email immediately after the post was published, No Hows and Whens on Rob’s part.

(Or on your yours, Grace. Private comment).


Here is Rob’s email:
Dear Otto,

Your poem today reminded me of Kipling’s

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!
Thanks Rob.


Some comments on the poem:
Sergio Caredda at:
I Keep Six Honest Serving Me talks about curiosity, and the willingness to continuously learn. The Six Honest Serving Men are the questions What, Why, When, How, Where and Who that are constantly asked to ensure understanding. These questions are sent in all directions, touching every topic. But then they are put to rest, and apparently not used at work: I Let them rest from nine till five / For I am busy then. Work, apparently, does not demand curiosity, rather busyness.

However, there is someone who has many more of these serving-men, a small child that asks “millions” of questions, never being allowed any rest. The sense of wonder of a child, and her curiosity, can be seen here from the second she opens her eyes.

The message on the importance of curiosity is clear, but also the realisation that with adulthood we are forced to limit this to only a few parts of our lives. At the same time, the sense of wonder that kids have gets replaced while growing, limiting our capacity to imagine.
Overall, the poem is a reflection on the wisdom of children (who see the world around them with fresh eyes) and the stagnation of the adult spirit as life goes on.

This poem is wake up call to us that the questions WHO, WHY, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN AND HOW are critical to daily life and to ensure that we question, examine and collate what we find so as to ensure we make the best decisions, we can – and have a logical position on any issue and that we can argue and stand up for these decisions and opinions.

The Six Honest Men help us determine the truth about ourselves, others and the issues that determine the fate of the world.


The questioning posed by Kipling as six honest serving men - What? Why? When? How? Where? and Who? - has also been used as a problem serving tool.

Kipling’s questioning words can be applied to a problem or situation and assessed from a positive and negative perspective, for example:
1.   What is good customer service?
2.   What is not good customer service? (Or what is bad customer service?)
3.   Why do we get good customer services?
4.   Why do we get bad customer service?
5.   When is there good customer service?
6.   When is there bad customer service?
7.   How do we get good customer service?
8.   How do we get bad customer service?
9.   Where is there good customer service?
10. Where is there bad customer service?
11. Who gives good customer service?
12. Who gives poor customer service?


Rob also added a further paragraph in his email:
And another good one is

Four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

With best regards,

Rob T.

Thanks for the second one as well, Rob


Rudyard Kipling

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