Shel Silverstein was one of my favorite poets growing up. Actually, he still is. His books are what first got me interseted in poetry. Some of them are silly, others absurd, and some are serious. He's amazing. So, I wanted to make a spot for my favorite poems of his. And when I finally figure out my scanner (which might happen before the end of the century) I want to add some of his drawings as well. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. They are listed in no particular order and all the recent additions are marked .
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
When I Was Your Age
My uncle said, "How do you get to school?"
I said, "By bus," and my uncle smiled.
"When I was your age," my uncle said,
"I walked it barefoot -- seven miles."
My uncle said, "How much weight can you tote?"
I said, "One bag of grain." My uncle laughed.
"When I was you age," my uncle said,
"I could drive a wagon -- and lift a calf."
My uncle said, "How many fights have you had?"
I said, "Two -- and both times I got whipped."
"When I was your age," my uncle said,
"I fought every day -- and was never licked."
My uncle asked, "How old are you?"
I said, "Nine and a half," and then
My uncle puffed out his chest and said,
"When I was your age...I was ten."
My skin is kind of sort of brownish
Pinkish yellowish white.
My eyes are greyish blueish green,
But I'm told they look orange in the night.
My hair is reddish blondish brown,
But it's silver when it's wet.
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.
'Twas the first day of springtime,
And the snowman stood alone
As the winter snows were melting,
And the pine trees seemed to groan,
"Ah, you poor sad smiling snowman,
Said the snowman, "What a pity,
For I'd like to see July.
Yes, I'd like to see July, and please don't ask me why.
But I'd like to, yes I'd like to, oh I'd like to see July."
Chirped a robin, just arriving,
"Seasons come and seasons go,
And the greatest ice must crumble
When it's flowers' time to grow.
And as one thing is begining
So another thing must die,
And there's never been a snowman
Who has ever seen July.
No, they never see July, no matter how they try.
No, they never ever, never ever, never see July."
But the snowman sniffed his carrot nose
And said, "At least I'll try,"
And he bravely smiled his frosty smile
And blinked his coal-black eye.
And there he stood and faced the sun
A blazin' from the sky --
And I really cannot tell you
If he ever saw July.
Did he ever see July? You can guess as well as I
If he ever, if he never, if he ever saw July.
The Folks Inside
Inside you, boy,
There's an old man sleepin',
Dreamin', waitin' for his chance.
Inside you, girl,
There's an old lady dozin',
Wantin' to show you a slower dance.
So keep on playin',
Keep on runnin',
Keep on jumpin', 'til the day
That those old folks
Down inside you
Wake up...and come out to play.
Jimmy Jet and His TV Set
I'll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet--
And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
Almost as much as you.
He watched all day, he watched all night
Till he grew pale and lean,
From "The Early Show" to "The Late Late Show"
And all the shows between.
He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
And his bottow grew into his chair.
And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
And antennae grew out of his hair.
And his brains turned into TV tubes,
And his face to a TV screen.
And two knobs saying "VERT." and "HORIZ."
Grew where his ears had been.
And he gew a plug that looked like a tail
So we plugged in little Jim.
And now instead of him watching TV
We all sit around and watch him.
Sandra's seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins' gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself.
Oh what do you do, poor Angus,
When hunger makes you cry?
"I fix myself an omelet, sir,
Of fluffy clouds and sky."
Oh what do you wear, poor Angus,
When winds blow down the hills?
"I sew myself a warm cloak, sir,
Of hope and daffodils."
Oh who do you love, poor Angus,
When Catherine's left the moor?
"Ah, then, sir, then's the only time
I feel I'm really poor."
Pirate Captain Jim
"Walk the plank," says Pirate Jim.
"But Captain Jim, I cannot swim."
"Then you must steer us through the gale."
"But Captain Jim, I cannot sail."
"Then down with the galley slaves you go."
"But Captain Jim, I cannot row."
"Then you must be a pirate's clerk."
"But Captain Jim, I cannot work."
"Then a pirate captain you must be."
"Thank you, Jim," says Captain Me.
My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!
And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes -- I guess he don't know
That three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!
And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!
And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head --
Too proud of me to speak!
Birds are flyin' south for winter.
Here's the Weird-Bird headin' north,
Wings a-flappin', beak a-chatterin',
Cold head bobbin' back'n'forth.
He says, "It's not that I like ice
Or freezin' winds and snowy ground.
It's just sometimes it's kind of nice
To be the only bird in town."
The Crocodile's Toothache
Went to the denist
And sat down in the chair,
And the dentist said, "Now tell me, sir,
Why does it hurt and where?"
And the Corocodile said, "I'll tell you the truth,
I have a terrible ache in my tooth,"
And he opened his jaws so wide, so wide,
That the dentist, he climbed right inside,
And the dentist laughted, "Oh isn't this fun?"
As he pulled the teeth out, one by one.
And the Crocodile cried, "You're hurting me so!
Please put down your pliers and let me go."
But the dentist just laughed with a Ho Ho Ho,
And he said, "I still have twelve to go --
Oops, that's the wrong one, I confess,
But what's one crocodile's tooth, more or less?"
Then suddenly, the jaws went SNAP,
And the dentist was gone, right off the map,
And where he went one could only guess...
To North or South or East or West...
He left no forwarding address.
But what's one dentist, more or less?
One Inch Tall
If you were only one inch tall, you'd ride a worm to school.
The teardrop of a crying ant would be your swimming pool.
A crumb of cake would be a feast
And last you seven days at least,
A flea would be a frightening beast
If you were one inch tall.
If you were only one inch tall, you'd walk beneath the door,
And it would take about a month to get down to the store.
A bit of fluff would be your bed,
You'd swing upon a spider's thread,
And wear a thimble on your head
If you were one inch tall.
You'd surf across the kitchen sink upon a stick of gum.
You couldn't hug your mama, you'd just have to hug her thumb.
You'd run from people's feet in fright,
To move a pen would take all night,
(This poem took fourteen years to write --
'Cause I'm just one inch tall).
Listen to the Mustn'ts
Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
The listen close to me --
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the pepermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
Standing on my elbow
With my finger n my ear,
Biting on a dandelion,
And humming kind of queer
While I watched a yellow caterpillar
Creeping up my wrist,
I leaned on a tree
And I said to me,
"Why am I doing this?"
The One Who Stayed
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-haried Ruth, my brother Rob,
And little crippled Bailey,
John and Nils and Cousin Claire,
Dancin', spinnin', turnin'
'Cross the hills to God knows 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 says that I was blest
For if that music 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.
If I could only see the scale,
I'm sure that it would state
That I've lost ounces...maybe pounds
Or even tons of weight.
"You'd better eat some pancakes --
You're skinny as a rail."
I'm sure that's what the scale would say...
If I could see the scale.
If The World Was Crazy
If the world was crazy, you know what I'd eat?
A big slice of soup and a whole quart of meat,
A lemonade sandwich, and then I might try
Some roasted ice cream or a bicycle pie,
A nice notebook salad, an underwear roast,
An omelet of hats and some crisp cardboard toast,
A thick malted milk made from pencils and daisies,
And that's what I'd eat if the world was crazy.
If the world was crazy, you know what I'd wear?
A chocolate suit and a tie of eclair,
Some marshmallow earmuffs, some licorice shoes,
And I'd read a paper of peppermint news.
I'd call the boys "Suzy" and I'd call the girls "Harry,"
I'd talk through my ears, and I always would carry
A paper umbrella for when it grew hazy
To keep in the rain, if the world was crazy.
If the world was crazy, you know what I'd do?
I'd walk on the ocean and swim in my shoe,
I'd fly through the ground and I'd skip through the air,
I'd run down the bathtub and bathe on the stair.
When I met somebody I'd say "G'bye, Joe,"
And when I was leaving -- then I'd say "Hello."
And the greatest of men would be silly and lazy
So I would be king...if the world was crazy.
This morning I jumped on my horse
And went out for a ride,
And some wild outlaws chased me
And they shot me in the side.
So I crawled into a wildcat's cave
To find a place to hide,
But some pirates found me sleeping there,
And soon they had me tied
To a pole and built a fire
Under me -- I almost cried
Till a mermaid came and cut me loose
And begged to be my bride,
So I said I'd come back Wednesday
But I must admit I lied.
Then I ran into a jungle swamp
But I forgot my guide
And I stepped into some quicksand,
And no matter how I tried
I couldn't get out, until I met
A water snake named Clyde,
Who pulled me to some cannibals
Who planned to have me fried.
But an eagle came and swooped me up
And through the air we flied,
And he dropped me in a boiling lake
A thousand miles wide.
And you'll never guess what I did then --
I tripped on my shoelace
And I fell up --
Up to the roof tops,
Up over the town,
Up past the tree tops,
Up over the mountains,
Up where the colors
Blend into the sounds.
But it got me so dizzy
When I looked around,
I got sick to my stomach
And I threw down.
Tell me I'm clever,
Tell me I'm kind,
Tell me I'm talented,
Tell me I'm cute,
Tell me I'm sensitive,
Graceful and wise,
Tell me I'm perfect --
But tell me the truth
I made an airplane out of stone...
I always did like staying home.
Oh this shiny new computer --
There just isn't nothin' cuter.
It knows everything the world ever knew.
And with this great computer
I don't need no writin' tutor,
'Cause there ain't a single thing that it can't do.
It can sort and it can spell,
It can punctuate as well.
It can find and file and underline and type.
It can edit and select,
It can copy and correct,
So I'll have a whole book written by tonight
(Just as soon as it can think of what to write).
I'll share your toys, I'll share your money,
I'll share your toast, I'll share your honey,
I'll share your milk and your cookies too --
The hard part's sharing mine with you.
A Battle in the Sky
It wasn't quite day and it wasn't quite night,
'Cause the sun and the moon were both in sight,
A situation quite all right
With everyone else but them.
So they both made remarks about who gave more light
And who ws the brightest and prettiest sight,
And the sun gave a bump and the moon gave a bite,
And the terrible sky fight began.
With a scorch and a sizzle, a screech and a shout,
Across the great heavens they tumbled about,
And the moon had a piece of the sun in its mouth,
While the sun burned the face of the moon.
And when it was over the moon was rubbed red,
And the sun had a very bad lump on its head,
And all the next night the moon stayed hom in bed,
And the sun didn't come out 'til noon.
Larry's such a liar --
He tells outrageous lies.
He says he's ninety-nine years old
Instead of only five.
He says he lives up on the moon,
He says that he once flew.
He says he's really six feet four
Instead of three feet two.
He says he has a billion dollars
'Stead of just a dime.
He says he rode a dinosaur
Back in some distant time.
He says his mother is the moon
Who taught him magic spells.
He says his father is the wind
That rings the morning bells.
He says he can take stones and rocks
And turn them into gold.
He says he can take burnin' fire
And turn it freezin' cold.
He said he'd send me seven elves
To help me with my chores.
But Larry's such a liar --
He only sent me four.
Dancin' in the Rain
So what if it drizzles
And dribbles and drips?
I'll splash in the garden,
I'll dance on the roof.
Let it rain on my skin,
It can't get in --
My father is a golfer --
He lets me be his tee.
He puts the ball upon my nose
And hits it right off me.
He says that I can share the joy
Of every ball he hits.
Oh, ain't it grand to have a dad
Who spends time with his kids.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
"I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong."
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you -- just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.