An inspiring author and songwriter, Naomi Shihab Nye, composed this symbolic poem, “Many Asked Me Not to Forget them.” It draws our attention toward the approach of the contemporary world that seems less bothered about the people who have left this world. Naomi started this poem with a spark of wonder. She wonders where people go once they leave this world. To emphasize her point, she states some examples of people and their professions to make people recall the glory of olden times.
She catalogs the names of people she remembers, such as; the shoemaker, broom maker, teacher, and olive farmer. The purpose of stating these people and their noble professions is to show their worth, hard work, and modesty. Further, she tries to make people think of them too, but they are too busy in their lives. However, she does not blame them for being so busy because everyone has his priorities. She puts herself in their place and finds herself aligned with them.
“Many Asked Me Not to Forget them” by Naomi Shihab Nye” displays various themes such as memories, care, and man’s life in the modern world. The ironic start of the poem accounts for the brevity of life. The writer wonders where skillful, hardworking, and devoted people went. Where are they kept once they disappear from our eyes? She beautifully mentions some of the people she used to remember even during her busy life. She wonders where her dear teacher, the shoemaker boom maker, and the olive farmer go.
Naomi tries to evoke similar responses in her society for the departed souls but finds no luck. People in America are so absorbed in their affairs that they have no time to think of the people who once existed. However, instead of blaming people for their cold response, she supports them with a counter statement that even she carries the same attitude. Deep inside, she laments her shortcomings that she possesses less energy to think of the places that triggers her mind.
To create a more significant impact on world, Naomi Shihab Nye has used many literary and poetic devices in the poem. First, the poem starts with a rhetorical question to make her point clear such as; “Where do you keep all these people? The second most important device is imagery. Using her poetic magic, the writer has painted the picture of a shoe man, farmer, and broom maker. Moreover, the poem exhibits various symbols like loss of innocence, modernity, and present versus past to expose the noticeable changes the world witnesses today.
Moreover, the poem alludes to the manual labor that has completely vanished in the contemporary world. Naomi tries to make her readers imagine how people used to earn a living in the past. Besides literary devices, the poem possesses poetic devices as well. There is no specific rhyme scheme or stanza distribution in the poem. By keeping her poem simple and without any rhyme scheme, she has enhanced the meanings of the poem.
The poem skillfully portrays the dilemma of modern society; people are too absorbed in themselves and worry less about other people. Moreover, we live in a revolutionary world, where machines have replaced manual labor. Therefore, the speaker tries to recall the contribution of some people and pays tribute to them using her poetic intelligence. Her kind gesture of putting them in her drawers and greeting them daily makes her sound like a prolific writer.