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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Forgotten Language by Shel Silverstein



Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

There are two ways to view this poem and people seem to land in one category or the other. The first interpretation is of a child and how that child was connected to nature through fantasy. The child makes up stories in their head and communicates with everything and finds new experiences exciting. Those children who are looking to learn from their environment are bright and pay attention to the little things people often skip over.  

The other way to interpret the poem is through the author’s connection to nature. The author indicates he was once connected to nature and now lost that language. He no longer pays attention to the world around him and focused on his busy life. There is a longing to go back to nature and find beauty in the little things. It appears that he is an advocate for simplicity in life.

Either interpretation work equally as well. It should not be forgotten that the author is a poet and may have been creative as a child and a seeker of simplicity later in his life. Only a poet, writer and artist would find a rusted utensil or old truck in a field interesting. They see the world fundamentally different than those focused on their daily lives. They are the dreamers and nature fits well with this kind.

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