No (More) Forbidden Languages

They told us not to speak one word

of the language we left behind.

We wept and lived in loneliness.

Fear and anger filled every mind.


The voices of our mothers sang

Lullabies in our hearts at night.

We whispered back in defiance

Our forced silence gave us fright.


New words and sounds around us

Scraped our tongues and ears.

We learned them painfully

With little curiosity, only fears.


Some of us lost our language

We never learned the new one well.

We hunger for ancient stories

Our grandparents used to tell.


We ask you now to consider  

The futile, hateful strategy

To wipe out a language and culture

And forbid human dignity.


Every language has its beauty

In history, in story and song.

Every culture enriches the world

In which we all belong.

Listen to this poem.

I live in California, USA. Email me about poetry and language learning  Donations support the site and I share a portion with IRC & Human Rights Watch

© 2018 Venette Cook. All rights reserved. Permission granted for personal or educational reproduction.

Happily created with

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube