Google+ Reading Teen: Shel Silverstein

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein is not only an incredible poet but also a lyrical genius.

"Once there was a tree... and she loved a boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written by the gifted and versatile Silverstein.
There are many who would say that Shel Silverstein is a less nonsensical Dr. Seuss. I would heartily disagree; Silverstein is entirely his own writer. He takes any and every subject, making the words rhyme with a magical flow. Some of his work is funny, some whimsical. Other still make you smile at the sheer cleverness of the story.

"Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
'I'll take the one on top.'
Who wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Theresa smiles and says,
'I'll take the one in the middle.'"

All of the different characters and personalities that Silverstein portrays on paper are the purest form of creativity I can imagine.
Over the years, no matter how much I mature, no matter how much I grow, I simply cannot help but be intensely entertained whenever I recall a segment of "Falling Up" or am reminded of a line from "Where the Sidewalk Ends."
Silverstein is best known for his comedic poetry and songwriting. He wrote Johnny Cash's well known song A Boy Named Sue.
Although most of Silverstein's work is humorous and lighthearted, there are those poems that take a much more serious note.

"You should have heard the old men cry,
You should have heard the biddies
When that sad stranger raised his flute
And piped away the kiddies.
Katy, Tommy, Meg and Bob
Followed, skipping gaily,
Red-haired Ruth, my brother Rob,
And little crippled Bailey,
John and Nils and Cousin Claire,
Dancin', spinnin', turnin'
'Cross the hills to God know where
They never came returnin'.
'Cross the hills to God knows where
The piper pranced, a leadin'.
Each child in Hamlin Town but me,
And I stayed home unheedin'.
My papa said that I was blest,
For if that music had found me,
I'd be witch-cast like all the rest,
This town grows old around me.
I cannot say I did not hear
That sound so haunting hollow-
I heard, I heard, I heard it clear...
I was afraid to follow."

A word I used earlier to describe Silverstein was versatile. And I think that the poem above proves just that. Not only is Shel Silverstein incredibly adept at writing comedic rhymes, but also can take on that which is more serious, and this is what proves that he is an amazing writer.
I don't think I'll ever grow out of Silverstein's work; it's just too good.


  1. Hey there, new follower here!

    And yup, Shel Silverstein will always hold a place in my heart. I read him as a kid, and someday, I want to read him to my kids, too.


  2. Have you ever heard him recite his own poetry? I swear, it's one of the greatest things in the world. I used two have Where the Sidewalk Ends on tape, and I would listen to it all the time. Over and over again. I still listen to those tapes even as an adult.


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