Please Hold – Ciaran O’Driscoll

Themes –

  • Society and culture: the poem looks at how the world is shifting into a technological era (something very reminiscent of modernist poets). The poet feels that human interaction is now lost as ‘robots’ are now replacing human communication.
  • The future: the poem describes the frustrations and difficulties that the poet faces in letting go of the past and accepting a new, technologically advanced future.


Tone of the poem –

  • There is a tone of frustration towards this monotonous voice running throughout the poem. The poet’s irritation is expressed through the ridiculing and imitation he does of the robot saying ‘I have a wonderful telephone number and a great account number’. He is sick of being dehumanized and treated as simply a consumer and number in line.
  • There is also a tone of sadness towards how the future is progressing. The connection of human touch is lost in the future and the poem ends on a dark tone that his future is simply to ‘grow old’ and ‘grow cold’ in this technologically controlled future.
  • There is also a very conversational tone throughout as the speaker starts many of his sentences with ‘and’.


Structure –

  • The poem is made up of two stanzas, with the first being a very long chunk of writing. This never-ending feeling of reading the first stanza could be a reflection of the process of a customer helpline as it is also a long and never-ending process.
  • There are a lot of short, blunt sentences throughout the poem, which could show the disconnection the speaker feels from human interaction. Even a ‘someone real’ is ‘just as robotic’.


Techniques –

  • The poet uses a literary structure known as ‘the stream of consciousness’, which essentially aims to replicate the free-flowing, unrestricted thought process of a human.
  • The poem is also written in free verse (no regular rhyme scheme), which could be symbolising the chaotic and tiresome mental state of the poet.
  • The use of repetition throughout the poem also symbolises the frustrating cycle that the speaker is stuck in within this technologically advancing world.
  • The reference to the piece ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ highlights a tone of mocking from the corporation keeping the speaker on hold as they are playing a happy and upbeat piece to a frustrated and annoyed customer. It also highlights the way in which technology and big corporations are changing things. ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ was once a great musical composure, yet now it is simply known as waiting music.

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