Let Lost Words Live

The drift of the world, of our lives, has been, for some time, away from nature, from ties to the land, from birds and trees, and bees, and flowers and earthworms and such like. Nature takes its revenge for our neglect with droughts and floods, wild fires, mud slides, hurricanes, extinction of species, maybe we human beings ourselves at some point, and so on and on. The estrangement from, as it were, the good side of nature, has opened wide the door to its bad side.

The effects are pervasive, including in our language, our use of words, oral and written. In the Oxford Junior Dictionary, we are told, the old words of nature are disappearing, crowded out by the new words of the digital world and the new social media. Children, like our grandchildren, are the victim of lost words. We lose our ability to name what is lost.

Which explains a marvelous new book, titled The Lost Words, with text, poems actually, by Robert Macfarlane and illustrations by Jackie Morris. It runs alphabetically from acorn to wren, with lark and newt in between. It is ideal for grandparents to read to younger grandchildren. A fun way to save the world with beautiful words.

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