The man with ears represents a person who is deeply empathetic, but unwilling to open up in the same way as the people he is empathetic towards. The visitors in the poem are said to not have ears, and yet the man with ears and the visitors are able to communicate emotionally. When the man with ears is faced with the very same emotions as his visitors, he does not express them to anyone because he believes that no one else possesses his ability to listen and understand. In the end, his choice leads to his own wallowing demise.
His World Without Ears
He is the only one
So everyone comes
At some point or another
When they need validation,
Asking if what they are doing is right,
And offers a face full of encouragement
And when they are enraged
And he sees their zealous light
He flares his nostrils
And jumps up with them, yelling out
When they cry
Shaking and trembling with grief
He holds them
And they rock back and forth together
Then when all the tears are gone
And all the anger is spent,
They hug him and thank him
Smiling and saying they will be back soon
To spend time with him, a beloved friend.
When they leave,
He smiles and waves goodbye
Before closing the door.
Once they have left him,
He turns to the wall
And asks if what he is doing is right
The wall cannot nod;
It is incapable of inspiring confidence.
He trembles in anger
But the wall just looks blankly back
Expressionless and unshaken
And when he cries,
He can only curl up into a ball and make himself as small as possible
Because when he looks at that wall and sees its vastness and strength,
It makes him feel weak and even smaller.
And when all the tears are gone
And all the anger is spent
He wishes they would return.
Because it is in the silence
That the hole inside him grows and grows and grows
And he wonders
If he will ever meet someone else with ears.