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Poems About Words

Table of Contents

  1. Speak Gently by George Washington Langford
  2. Reproach by Ruby Archer
  3. A Word by Emily Dickinson
  4. A Syllable by Emily Dickinson
  5. Reticence by Emily Dickinson
  6. Small Beginnings by Charles Mackay
  7. Our Words by Ruby Archer
  8. Words by Charles Swain
  9. A Sermon in Rhyme by Anonymous
  10. The Heartening by Winifred Webb
  11. Talk is Cheap by Amos Russel Wells
  12. My Lady Wind by Anonymous
  13. On a Certain Conversation by Anonymous
  14. Speak Kindly by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  15. The Weight of a Word by Kate Slaughter McKinney
  16. The Speech of Silence by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  17. Speak One Kind Word by Colfax Burgoyne Harman
  18. Loving Words by Anonymous
  19. They Say by Anonymous
  20. Charity by Edwin Oscar Gale
  21. Kind Words by Daniel Clement Colesworthy
  22. Roots and Earth by Ruby Archer
  23. O Faithless One by Ruby Archer
  24. The Little Words Within My Book by Annette Wynne


Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

– Solomon
Proverbs 18:21
  1. Words

    A little said,—and truly said,—
    Can deeper joy impart
    Than hosts of words, which reach the head,
    But never touch the heart.

    – Charles Swain
    Words
    by Charles Swain

    If words could satisfy the heart,
    The heart might find less care;
    But words, like summer birds, depart,
    And leave but empty air.
    The heart, a pilgrim upon earth,
    Finds often, when it needs,
    That words are of as little worth
    As just so many weeds.

    A little said,—and truly said,—
    Can deeper joy impart
    Than hosts of words, which reach the head,
    But never touch the heart.
    The voice that wins its sunny way,
    A lonely home to cheer,
    Hath oft the fewest words to say;
    But, oh! those few,—how dear!

    If words could satisfy the breast,
    The world might hold a feast;
    But words,—when summoned to the test,—
    Oft satisfy the least!
    Like plants that make a gaudy show,
    All blossom to the root;
    But whose poor nature cannot grow
    One particle of fruit!

  2. Reproach

    by Ruby Archer

    He came in ruddy anger, and he flung
    Quick, deeply-stabbing words, nor measured wounds,
    Nor minded if a loving heart were stung.
    My sobs uprose. I pressed them back to bounds.
    Oh, could he know, his briefest look unkind
    Were more than ample punishment to find,—
    Reserve alone had all my bosom wrung.

  3. Speak Gently

    Speak gently: 'tis a little thing
    Dropped in the heart's deep well;
    The good, the joy, which it may bring,
    Eternity shall tell.

    – George Washington Langford
    Speak Gently
    by George Washington Langford

    Speak gently; it is better far
    To rule by love than fear:
    Speak gently; let no harsh words mar
    The good we might do here.

    Speak gently to the little child;
    Its love be sure to gain;
    Teach it in accents soft and mild;
    It may not long remain.

    Speak gently to the aged one;
    Grieve not the careworn heart:
    The sands of life are nearly run;
    Let such in peace depart.

    Speak gently, kindly, to the poor;
    Let no harsh tone be heard;
    They have enough they must endure,
    Without an unkind word.

    Speak gently to the erring; know
    They must have toiled in vain;
    Perhaps unkindness made them so;
    Oh, win them back again.

    Speak gently: 'tis a little thing
    Dropped in the heart's deep well;
    The good, the joy, which it may bring,
    Eternity shall tell.

  4. Our Words

    Our words are clouds, and fleeting shadow cast

    – Ruby Archer
    Our Words
    by Ruby Archer

    Our words are clouds, and fleeting shadow cast
    Upon the landscape of a life. Sometimes
    One rests above a hillside like a blush,
    And sometimes darkens more a deep ravine:
    For sunny hill—a needful, pensive charm,
    For dark ravine—one more degree of gloom.

  5. A Sermon in Rhyme

    Scatter thus your seed of kindness,
    All enriching as you go—
    Leave them, trust the Harvest-Giver;
    He will make each seed to grow.

    – Anonymous
    A Sermon in Rhyme
    by Anonymous

    If you have a friend worth loving,
    Love him. Yes, and let him know
    That you love him ere life's evening
    Tinge his brow with sunset glow;
    Why should good words ne'er be said
    Of a friend—till he is dead?

    If you hear a song that thrills you,
    Sung by any child of song,
    Praise it. Do not let the singer
    Wait deserved praises long;
    Why should one that thrills your heart
    Lack that joy it may impart?

    If you hear a prayer that moves you
    By its humble pleading tone,
    Join it. Do not let the seeker
    Bow before his God alone;
    Why should not your brother share
    The strength of "two or three" in prayer?

    If you see the hot tears falling
    From a loving brother's eyes,
    Share them, and by sharing,
    Own your kinship with the skies;
    Why should anyone be glad,
    When his brother's heart is sad?

    If a silver laugh goes rippling
    Through the sunshine on his face,
    Share it. 'Tis the wise man's saying,
    For both grief and joy a place;
    There's health and goodness in the mirth
    In which an honest laugh has birth.

    If your work is made more easy
    By a friendly helping hand,
    Say so. Speak out brave and truly,
    Ere the darkness veil the land.
    Should a brother workman dear
    Falter for a word of cheer?

    Scatter thus your seed of kindness,
    All enriching as you go—
    Leave them, trust the Harvest-Giver;
    He will make each seed to grow.
    So, until its happy end,
    Your life shall never lack a friend.


    To age and youth let gracious words be spoken;
    Upon the wheel of pain so many lives are broken,
    We live in vain who give no tender token—
    Let us be kind.

    – W. Lomax Childress
    Let Us Be Kind
  6. The Heartening

    by Winifred Webb

    It may be that the words I spoke
    To cheer him on his way,
    To him were vain, but I myself
    Was braver all that day.

  7. Small Beginnings

    Let fall a word of Hope and Love,
    Unstudied from the heart;
    A whisper on the tumult thrown,
    A transitory breath—
    It raised a brother from the dust,
    It saved a soul from death.

    – Anonymous
    Small Beginnings
    by Charles Mackay

    A traveler on the dusty road
    Strewed acorns on the lea;
    And one took root and sprouted up,
    And grew into a tree.
    Love sought its shade, at evening time,
    To breathe his early vows;
    And age was pleased, in heats of noon,
    To bask beneath its boughs;
    The dormouse loved its dangling twigs,
    The birds sweet music bore;
    It stood a glory in its place,
    A blessing evermore.

    A little spring had lost its way
    Amid the grass and fern,
    A passing stranger scooped a well
    Where weary men might turn;
    He walled it in, and hung with care
    A ladle at the brink;
    He thought not of the deed he did,
    But judged that all might drink.
    He paused again, and lo! the well,
    By summer never dried,
    Had cooled ten thousand parching tongues
    And saved a life beside.

    A dreamer dropped a random thought;
    'Twas old, and yet 'twas new;
    A simple fancy of the brain,
    But strong in being true.
    It shone upon a genial mind,
    And, lo! its light became
    A lamp of life, a beacon ray,
    A monitory flame;
    The thought was small, its issue great;
    A watch-fire on the hill;
    It shed its radiance far adown,
    And cheers the valley still.

    A nameless man, amid a crowd
    That thronged the daily mart,
    Let fall a word of Hope and Love,
    Unstudied from the heart;
    A whisper on the tumult thrown,
    A transitory breath—
    It raised a brother from the dust,
    It saved a soul from death.
    O germ! O fount! O word of love!
    O thought at random cast!
    Ye were but little at the first,
    But mighty at the last.

  8. Talk is Cheap

    by Amos Russel Wells

    When the tongue, with ready art,
    Bodies forth a servile heart;
    When its vows forgotten fade
    Speedily as they are made;
    When it raises honor high,
    But its own life is a lie;
    When big words from nothing leap,
    "Talk is cheap," for life is cheap.

    When the tongue with carefulness
    Tells the truth, nor more nor less;
    When it boldly dares to speak
    For the wronged and for the weak;
    When with modesty and grace
    Talk adorns a homely place;
    When it comes from sources deep,
    Talk is anything but cheap.

    "Speech is silver," sages sing;
    "Silence is a golden thing."
    Other doctrine do I hold:
    Talk is gold when life is gold.

  9. My Lady Wind

    Take my advice, restrain the tongue,

    – Anonymous
    My Lady Wind
    by Anonymous

    My Lady Wind, my Lady Wind,
    Went round about the house to find
    A chink to set her foot in;
    She tried the keyhole in the door,
    She tried the crevice in the floor,
    And drove the chimney soot in.

    And then one night when it was dark
    She blew up such a tiny spark
    That all the town was bothered;
    From it she raised such flame and smoke
    That many in great terror woke,
    And many more were smothered.

    And thus when once, my little dears,
    A whisper reaches itching ears—
    The same will come, you'll find:
    Take my advice, restrain the tongue,
    Remember what old nurse has sung
    Of busy Lady Wind.

  10. On a Certain Conversation

    Speech is a bridge, from mind to mind,
    For gainful interchange designed;

    – Amos R. Wells
    On a Certain Conversation
    by Amos Russel Wells

    Two egotists conversed one day,
    Each in a quite contented way,
    And each—the vain and happy elf—
    Soliloquized about himself.

    Speech is a bridge, from mind to mind,
    For gainful interchange designed;
    But when you meet a selfish man,
    The bridge has lost its central span!

  11. A Word

    by Emily Dickinson

    A word is dead
    When it is said,
    Some say.
    I say it just
    Begins to live
    That day.

  12. A Syllable

    by Emily Dickinson

    Could mortal lip divine
    The undeveloped freight
    Of a delivered syllable,
    'T would crumble with the weight.

  13. Reticence

    by Emily Dickinson

    The reticent volcano keeps
    His never slumbering plan;
    Confided are his projects pink
    To no precarious man.

    If nature will not tell the tale
    Jehovah told to her,
    Can human nature not survive
    Without a listener?

    Admonished by her buckled lips
    Let every babbler be.
    The only secret people keep
    Is Immortality.

  14. Unspoken Words

    by Anonymous

    The kindly words that rise within the heart,
    And thrill it with their sympathetic tone,
    But die ere spoken, fail to play their part,
    And claim a merit that is not their own.
    The kindly word unspoken is a sin,—
    A sin that wraps itself in purest guise,
    And tells the heart that, doubting, looks within,
    That not in speech, but thought, the virtue lies.

    But 't is not so; another heart may thirst
    For that kind word, as Hagar in the wild—
    Poor banished Hagar!—prayed a well might burst
    From out the sand to save her parching child.
    And loving eyes that cannot see the mind
    Will watch the unexpected movement of the lips.
    Ah! I can you let its cutting silence wind
    Around that heart and scathe it like a whip?

    Unspoken words like treasures in a mine
    Are valueless until we give them birth;
    Like unfound gold their hidden beauties shine,
    Which God has made to bless and gild the earth.
    How sad 't would be to see the master's hand
    Strike glorious notes upon a voiceless lute!
    But oh, what pain when, at God's own command,
    A heart-string thrills with kindness, but is mute!

    Then hide it not, the music of the soul,
    Dear sympathy expressed with kindly voice,
    But let it like a shining river roll
    To deserts dry—to hearts that would rejoice.
    Oh, let the symphony of kindly words
    Sound for the poor, the friendless, and the weak,
    And He will bless you! He who struck the chords
    Will strike another when in turn you seek.

  15. Speak Kindly

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    Speak kindly in the morning,
    When you are leaving home,
    And give the day a lighter heart
    Into the week to roam.
    Leave kind words as mementoes
    To be handled and caressed,
    And watch the noon-time hour arrive
    In gold and tinsel dressed.

    Speak kindly in the evening!
    When on the walk is heard
    A tired footstep that you know,
    Speak one refreshing word,
    And see the glad light springing
    From the heart into the eye,
    As sometimes from behind a cloud
    A star leaps to the sky.

    Speak kindly to the children
    That crowd around your chair,
    The tender lips that lean on yours
    Kiss, smooth the flaxen hair;
    Some day a room that’s lonesome
    The little ones may own,
    And home be empty as the nest
    From which the birds have flown.

    Speak kindly to the stranger
    Who passes through the town,
    A loving word is light of weight—
    Not so would prove a frown.
    One is a precious jewel
    The heart would grasp in sleep,
    The other like a demon’s gift
    The memory loathes to keep.

    Speak kindly to the sorrowful
    Who stand beside the dead,
    The heart can lean against a word
    Though thorny seems the bed.
    And oh, to those discouraged
    Who faint upon the way,
    Stop, stop—if just a moment—
    And something kindly say.

    Speak kindly to the fallen ones,
    Your voice may help them rise;
    A word right-spoken oft unclasps
    The gate beyond the skies.
    Speak kindly, and the future
    You’ll find God looking through!
    Speak of another as you’d have
    Him always speak of you.

  16. The Weight of a Word

    by Kate Slaughter McKinney

    Have you ever thought of the weight of a word
    That falls in the heart like the song of a bird,
    That gladdens the springtime of memory and youth
    And garlands with cedar the banner of Truth,
    That moistens the harvesting spot of the brain
    Like dew-drops that fall on the meadow of grain
    Or that shrivels the germ and destroys the fruit
    And lies like a worm at the lifeless root?

    I saw a farmer at break of day
    Hoeing his corn in a careful way;
    An enemy came with a drouth in his eye,
    Discouraged the worker and hurried by.
    The keen-edged blade of the faithful hoe
    Dulled on the earth in the long corn row;
    The weeds sprung up and their feathers tossed
    Over the field and the crop was—lost.

    A sailor launched on an angry bay
    When the heavens entombed the face of day
    The wind arose like a beast in pain,
    And shook on the billows his yellow name,
    The storm beat down as if cursed the cloud,
    And the waves held up a dripping shroud—
    But, hark! o’er the waters that wildly raved
    Came a word of cheer and he was—saved.

    A poet passed with a song of God
    Hid in his heart like a gem in a clod.
    His lips were framed to pronounce the thought,
    And the music of rhythm its magic wrought;
    Feeble at first was the happy trill,
    Low was the echo that answered the hill,
    But a jealous friend spoke near his side,
    And on his lips the sweet song—died.

    A woman paused where a chandelier
    Threw in the darkness its poisoned spear;
    Weary and footsore from journeying long,
    She had strayed unawares from the right to the wrong.
    Angels were beck’ning her back from the den,
    Hell and its demons were beck’ning her in;
    The tone of an urchin, like one who forgives,
    Drew her back and in heaven that sweet word—lives.

    Words! Words! They are little, yet mighty and brave;
    They rescue a nation, an empire save;
    They close up the gaps in a fresh bleeding heart
    That sickness and sorrow have severed apart,
    They fall on the path, like a ray of the sun,
    Where the shadows of death lay so heavy upon;
    They lighten the earth over our blessed dead,
    A word that will comfort, oh! leave not unsaid.

  17. The Speech of Silence

    by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    The solemn Sea of Silence lies between us;
    I know thou livest, and thou lovest me;
    And yet I wish some white ship would come sailing
    Across the ocean, bearing word from thee.

    The dead-calm awes me with its awful stillness.
    No anxious doubts or fears disturb my breast;
    I only ask some little wave of language,
    To stir this vast infinitude of rest.

    I am oppressed with this great sense of loving;
    So much I give, so much receive from thee,
    Like subtle incense, rising from a censer,
    So floats the fragrance of thy love round me.

    All speech is poor, and written words unmeaning;
    Yet such I ask, blown hither by some wind,
    To give relief to this too perfect knowledge,
    The Silence so impresses on my mind.

    How poor the love that needeth word or message,
    To banish doubt or nourish tenderness;
    I ask them but to temper love's convictions
    The Silence all too fully doth express.

    Too deep the language which the spirit utters;
    Too vast the knowledge which my soul hath stirred.
    Send some white ship across the Sea of Silence,
    And interrupt its utterance with a word.

  18. Speak One Kind Word

    by Colfax Burgoyne Harman

    Speak one kind word to me, dear love
    One soft kind word when we are 'lone.
    Pause one sweet moment, precious dove,
    And warm a heart, as cold as stone.
    Speak one kind word.

    Speak one kind word. Those tender eyes
    Give solace sweet when thou art near,
    But in that hallowed voice there lies
    A pathos rich, profound and dear.
    Speak one kind word.

    Speak one kind word, dear, precious love,
    One soft, kind word in tender tone,
    It brings a blessing from above,
    And cheers a life which is so lone.
    Speak one kind word.

  19. Loving Words

    by Anonymous

    Loving words will cost but little,
    Journeying up the hill of life;
    But they make the weak and weary
    Stronger, braver for the strife.
    Do you count them only trifles?
    What to earth are sun and rain?
    Never was a kind word wasted,
    Never was one said in vain.

    When the cares of life are many,
    And its burdens heavy grow,
    For the ones who walk beside you;
    If you love them, tell them so.
    What you count of little value
    Has an almost magic power,
    And beneath their cheering sunshine
    Hearts will blossom like a flower.

    So, as up life's hill we journey,
    Let us scatter, all the way,
    Kindly words, to be as sunshine
    In the dark and cloudy day.
    Grudge no loving word or action,
    As along through life you go;
    To the ones who Journey with you,
    If you love them, tell them so.

  20. They Say

    by Anonymous

    The subject of my speech is one
    We hear of every day—
    ’Tis simply all about the fear
    We have of what “they say!

    How happy all of us could be,
    If—as we go our way—
    We did not stop to think and care
    So much for what “they say!

  21. Charity

    by Edwin Oscar Gale

    Above the dust of others
    Speak not of faults they've shown,
    That we may ask our brothers
    Their silence for our own.

  22. Kind Words

    by Daniel Clement Colesworthy

    A little word in kindness spoken,
    A motion or a tear,
    Has often healed the heart that's broken,
    And made a friend sincere.

    A word a look has crushed to earth
    Full many a hudcling flower,
    Which, had a smile but owned its birth,
    Would bless life's darkest hour.

    Then deem it not an idle thing,
    A pleasant word to speak;
    The face you wear, the thoughts you bring,
    A heart may heal or break.

  23. Roots and Earth

    by Ruby Archer

    Poor, pitiful race of unthinkers!
    We shrink from the roots of things,
    Fearing defilement of lingers,
    Meeting the earth where it clings.

    We go through life always plucking
    Visible blossoms of words,—
    Careless of what lies beneath them
    As the honey-bees or the birds.

    We want the flowers for garlands.
    If truth of the dust be espied,
    And the roots of thought follow our plucking,—
    Disdainful, we fling all aside.

    A plant cannot bloom without rootlets,
    And roots cannot live without earth;
    No more can our words be enduring,
    If thoughts have not truth for their birth.

  24. O Faithless One

    by Ruby Archer

    Thy face away I see more clearly
    Than those that lean above.
    Thy merest word I hold more dearly
    Than others' vows of love.

    More dear than many an eager token
    Thy failing, howe'er wept;
    More precious far thy promise broken
    Than any other's kept.

  25. The Little Words Within My Book

    by Annette Wynne

    The little words within my book,
    Are always waiting when I look;
    They're made of marks set in a row
    That any child who reads may know;
    They're pictures of the sounds we say
    At home or dinner-time or play.

Open, O little lips, proclaim
The Father’s love, and bless His name,
And then a glad “good morning” sound
To all the dear companions round.

– Anonymous
O eyes that open

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