Author’s Note: Knowing A Man was written in the Summer of 1960 while I was a graduate student at Iowa University. This poem was inspired by an old Columbia University professor of mine who had stopped in Iowa City to see me on his way to visit his father in Mexico City. When I asked him why he was visiting his father, he replied, “My father is very old, and I never knew his dreams.”

You only know a man when you know his dreams.
His troubles tell you only how he lives.
To discover that which is instead of that which seems,
Don’t ask of his pain,
Ask of his dreams.