The "Silent Child" Who Wrote Beautiful Poetry Without Saying a Word

Aired on 09/28/1999 | CC tv-pg
In 1999, Oprah introduced her audience to young Marshall Stewart Ball, an incredible poet who could write but not speak. His mother, Troylyn, explained that he was born with a genetic disorder that doctors were unable to diagnose. Although Marshall gave no indication that he could comprehend the world around him, his determined mother continuously read to him, exposed him to different places and explained things to him. "Because what if he were listening?" she said.

It turns out he was. At age 5, Marshall started writing out words by tapping on an alphabet board his mother created. His father, Charlie, said that Marshall soon began writing spiritual poetry, using "rich, textural language" well beyond his young years. His brilliance could not be explained, but it also could not be denied by the doctors who studied him.

Take a look back at some of Marshall's incredible poems, which were published into a book, Kiss of God: The Wisdom of a Silent Child.