Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Question: How Do We Know the Answers If We Never Ask the Questions? #AtoZChallenge Letter Q

During April I'm participating in the A to Z blogging challenge.
Each day, sans Sunday, offers an opportunity to write about a
letter of the alphabet with the goal of writing 26 posts.
April is also National Poetry Month.

We often tell children there is no such thing as a stupid question only to convey the opposite sentiment to them when they ask questions we have heard repeatedly or when they ask questions about something we've moments ago finished explaining. 

Teaching students to ask questions ranks among the most difficult concepts. We speak about Levels of Questioning: 

  • Level 1: Literal level questions.
  • Level 2: Comprehension questions.
  • Level 3: Interpretive level of questions
Educators know these as Costa's Levels of Inquiry. 
Today I'm thinking about how poetry can inform the way we think about questioning and have selected two to share: 

"The Book of Questions, III"

Pablo Neruda, 1904-1973


Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal 
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder 
than a train standing in the rain? 


"Questions about Angels" by Billy Collins

Of all the questions you might want to ask 
about angels, the only one you ever hear 
is how many can dance on the head of a pin. 

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time 
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin 
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth 
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge. 

Do they fly through God's body and come out singing? 
Do they swing like children from the hinges 
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards? 
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors? 

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes, 
their diet of unfiltered divine light? 
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall 
these tall presences can look over and see hell? 

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole 
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly 
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word? 

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive 
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume 
the appearance of the regular mailman and 
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards? 

No, the medieval theologians control the court. 
The only question you ever hear is about 
the little dance floor on the head of a pin 
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly. 

It is designed to make us think in millions, 
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse 
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one: 
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet, 
a small jazz combo working in the background. 

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful 
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over 
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing 
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians. 


  1. Questions will always be asked. What can be controlled is how we answer.

    Blog: QueendSheena
    2016 A to Z Participant
    Joy Brigade Minion

  2. I always used to say that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask.

    John Holton
    Blogging from A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    The Sound of One Hand Typing