Shel Silverstein

By: Rohan Lalapet

Shel Silverstein

Mr. Sheldon Allan Silverstein is a renowned poet known for his hilarious poems for children. He was born on September 25, 1930. He started to work on his passion of drawing at the age of twelve. This later helped jumpstart his career as a cartoonist when he joined the military.

Early life

Mr. Silverstein went and graduated from a high school by the name of Roosevelt High School. After high school Silverstein went to the Art Institute of Chicago but dropped out later to serve in the military. He served in Japan and Korea. He received praise for his famous "Take Ten" cartoon series. This cartoon series was later put into a book that was very successful. He also included daily events from the life of a soldier.

A Cartoonist's Career

Shel Silverstein had drawn and submitted his cartoons to various magazines. He was hired as the cartoonist for Playboy. He was sent to describe various places such as Paris, Africa, and London. He had also made a book full of his cartoons called "Now Here's My Plan: Book of Futilities".

The Days of an Author

Mr. Silverstein's first book was called "Uncle Shelby's Story of Lafcadio: The Lion that Shot Back". This book didn't satisfy many people and received a moderate praise. But, Mr. Silverstein's most famous book, "The Giving Tree" received a high amount of praise and was appreciated as a bestseller. His second book was at a slow start at first, but later became a bestseller.

The Career of a Poet

Mr. Shel Silverstein was a renowned poet for compilations of poems. One of his most famous ones being "Where the Sidewalk Ends" Another compilation of poems is called "The Light in the Attic" which made Mr.Silverstein more popular among readers. One other book was called " The Missing Piece". The missing piece is about a circle that is trying to find the piece that is missing and finds out that the journey of finding the missing piece was more fun than having the missing piece.
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Days of a Musician, Movie Maker, and Theater

Mr. Silverstein was a renowned artist for his fantastic music. One song titled "A Boy Named Sue" which was a humorous song which later won a Grammy Award. Another Song was "Boa Constrictor" that was included in the poetry labs. He also wrote for many movies such as, "Thieves". He also made one called "Postcards from the Edge" which has his own music incorporated in the movie. He also wrote another movie called "Ned Kelly". When it came to theater he contributed to 100 one act plays.
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Awards and Literary Distinctions

During Mr. Silverstein's life he has received many awards such as the Grammy Award that he won for his song, "A Boy Named Sue". He also is part of the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame. Lastly he was also nominated for a Golden Globe award and an Oscar for his completely original song "I'm Checking Out" in the movie "Postcards from the Edge". So, Mr. Silverstein's amazing work has also been recognized by the public.


It’s Dark In Here

I am writing these poems

From inside a lion,

And it’s rather dark in here.

So please excuse the handwriting

Which may not be too clear.

But this afternoon by the lion’s cage

I’m afraid I got too near.

And I’m writing these lines

From inside a lion,

And it’s rather dark in here.

Literary Devices Used: Rhyme, Hyperbole, Theme, Tone, Mood

Why I chose this Poem: I chose this poem because I liked the idea that Shel Silverstein was conveying to the reader of him writing the poem inside of the lion and trying to make sure that the reader understands that his handwriting is bad because the inside of the lion is pretty dark.

Homemade Boat

This boat that we just built is just fine—

And don’t try to tell us it’s not.

The sides and the back are divine—

It’s the bottom I guess we forgot. . . .

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Rhyme, Theme, Tone, Mood

Why I Chose this Poem: I chose this poem because it was short and sweet and had a humorous meaning to it. It also had a big surprise at the end because they forgot the bottom.

The Acrobats

I’ll swing

By my ankles,

She’ll cling

To your knees

As you hang

By your nose

from a high-up


But just one thing, please,

As we float through the breeze—

Don’t sneeze

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Rhyme, Tone, Mood, Theme

Why I Chose this Poem: I chose this poem because of the playfulness in it along with the rhymes. The rhymes and the theme both make the poem fun and enjoyable.

Captain Hook

Captain Hook must remember

Not to scratch his toes.

Captain Hook must watch out

And never pick his nose.

Captain Hook must be gentle

When he shakes your hand.

Captain Hook must be carful

Openin’ sardine cans

And playing tag and pouring tea

And turin’ pages of his book.

Lots of folks I’m glad I ain’t—

But mostly Captain Hook!

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Rhyme, Tone, Mood, Theme

Why I Chose this Poem: I chose this poem because the rhyme scheme is very applicable to a real world situation. Another reason I liked this poem is because these are things that Captain Hook actually had to watch out for.

I Must Remember

I must remember . . .

Turkey on Thanksgiving,

Pudding on Christmas,

Eggs on Easter,

Chicken on Sunday,

Fish on Friday,

Leftovers, Monday,

But ah, me—I’m such a dunce.

I went and ate them all at once.

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Alliteration, Rhyme, Hyperbole, Tone, Mood, Theme

Why I Chose this Poem: I chose this poem because it reminds me of all the good things that we eat when the holiday season comes up. I also like how Shel Silverstein is able to rhyme and say that he ate all those things at once.

The Loser

Mama said I’d lose my head

If it wasn’t fastened on.

Today I guess it wasn’t

‘Cause while playing with my cousin

It fell off and rolled away

And now it’s gone.

And I can’t look for it

‘Cause my eyes are in it,

And I can’t call to it

‘Cause my mouth is on it

(Couldn’t hear me anyway

‘Cause my ears are on it),

Can’t even think about it

‘Cause my brain is in it.

So I guess I’ll sit down

On this rock

And rest for just a minute….

~Shel Silverstein

Literary devices: Hyperbole, Tone, Mood, Theme, Repetition

Why I Chose this Poem: I chose this poem because I thought the idea of losing your head was a weird idea. I also thought the description of the missing senses were creative and inquisitive. I also thought that the rock the character is sitting on might be his head.

Early Bird

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird

And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.

If you’re a bird, be an early early bird—

But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Personification, Tone, Mood, Theme

Why I Chose this poem: I chose this poem because I liked the advice the poet gives the two creatures.


I put a piece of cantaloupe

Underneath the microscope.

I saw a million strange things sleepin’,

I saw a zillion weird things creepin’,

I saw some green things twist and bend–

I won’t eat cantaloupe again.

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Tone, Mood, Imagery, Theme, Rhyme

Why I Chose this Poem: I chose this poem because it makes perfect sense why Shel Silverstein doesn't like cantaloupes. Since we all have some foods which we dislike, I decided to include this poem.

Falling Up

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.

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Repetition, Tone, Mood, Theme

Why I Chose this Poem: I always wanted to read this poem since I first saw the book, now finally I got the chance to read it.

How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes

If you have to dry the dishes

(Such an awful, boring chore)

If you have to dry the dishes

(‘Stead of going to the store)

If you have to dry the dishes

And you drop one on the floor—

Maybe they won’t let you

Dry the dishes anymore.

~Shel Silverstein

Literary Devices: Rhyme, Alliteration , Tone, Mood, Theme

Why I Chose this Poem: I chose this poem because that chore is really awful, so it is something I can relate to. I also chose this poem because it gives me some ideas to be creative.


All in all, Shel Silverstein was an amazing children's poet. He won many awards and he is going to be remembered for years to come. He has made some groundbreaking accomplishments and I think he deserves to be appreciated because he brought out the fun of childhood. He will be remembered for his humorous songs, poems, and movies. Shel Silverstein was an amazing man who had many ways of expressing his ideas. I hope you think so too.


  • Sandler, Eric. "Shel Silverstein Was Actually a Playboy Columnist for over 40 Years." AOL.COM. AOL Inc., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
  • "Where the Sidewalk Ends." Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
  • "Shel Silverstein Biography." - Sheldon Allan Silverstein Childhood, Life & Timeline. FamousPeople, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
  • "The Sidewalk Continues: Shel Silverstein Is Getting a Biopic." Entertain This. USA Today, 22 July 2014. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
  • "Give and Take -." The Good Men Project., 05 Sept. 2010. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.