The Wise Old Owl Poem Analysis Essay

Years ago an anonymous writer penned a short poem about the merits of measuring our words.

A wise old owl sat in an oak;

The more he saw the less he spoke;

The less he spoke the more he heard;

Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

There is a connection between wisdom and limiting what we say. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

We are wise to be careful about what we say or how much we say in certain situations. It makes sense to guard our words when we are angry. James urged his fellow believers, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Restraining our words can also show reverence for God. Solomon said, “God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few” (Eccl. 5:2). When others are grieving, our silent presence may help more than abundant expressions of sympathy: “No one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13).

Although there is a time to be quiet and a time to speak (Eccl. 3:7), choosing to speak less allows us to hear more.

Dear Lord, please grant me wisdom to
know when to speak and when to listen.
I want to encourage others and to care
for them as You have cared for me.

Let your speech be better than silence; otherwise be silent.

By Jennifer Benson Schuldt | See Other Authors

Today’s reading focuses on how we use the words we speak. In verse 17, the emphasis is on the instruction and correction we receive; lying lips and slanderous words are the focus of verse 18. The point of verse 19 is that words can be so dangerous that we’re wiser to not speak than to speak too much, while verse 20 contrasts the speech of those with a right heart (which is like silver) against those whose heart is far from God (worthless). Finally, verse 21 describes how proper speech can be like food to the soul. In all of these sayings, we are challenged to carefully consider how we speak.

There’s an old poem that was originally meant to imply that “children should be seen and not heard.”  Though that analysis is an incorrect approach, one can apply the following words to so many situations.  This poem stood on the wall of my grandmother’s house for so long.  It’s another one of the items that has shaped me and my adoption of information and friends.

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

I believe strongly in the idea of listening before you speak.  Even when you feel that you know what the other person is thinking or feel you are right and need to tell them why, stop and listen.  Only when you fully understand the other person’s premises for debate can you finally engage.  Use the Socratic method.

Remember Mark Twain who said:

Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

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