Skip over navigation

Shel Silverstein: Celebrating the Man, the Myth, the Legend

Shel Silverstein: Celebrating the Man, the Myth, the Legend

By Chrissie Gruebel

I will sing Shel Silverstein's praises from every mountaintop forever and ever, until the end of days. I remember my sister getting Where the Sidewalk Ends for a birthday or something—I have no idea who gave it to her but, oh man. We read that like it was the cure. We traced the drawings. We recited the poems at the dinner table. Basically, we were really annoying about it.

Then we got A Light in the Attic and became even more annoying. I feel like most people's first intro to Shel was The Giving Tree, and eventually I had a teacher read it to my class, but it was never my favorite. My feelings on The Giving Tree are similar to how I feel about seeing an old man eating alone in a restaurant. I always check to see if he has a wedding ring, and if he doesn't, I just have this vaguely uneasy and sad feeling for the rest of the night. Even when I leave! My brain will not let me forget to be sad about that old man. The Giving Tree stays with me like that. I love it but I also, like, cannot handle it. Probably because that's the mark of a well-written story and also probably because there's an old man in it at the end.

Not too long ago, a posthumous collection of Shel Silverstein's leftover poems was released; it's called Every Thing On It and I obviously bought it for my sister for her birthday, and we became re-obsessed and even more annoying because now we're adults and the Internet exists and we can start talking crazy-talk about him on Twitter or whatever. POINT IS, I love Mr. Silverstein, and below is my disgusting attempt at writing a Shel Silverstein-esque poem to properly honor the man, the myth, the legend himself.

Shel Silverstein's more than a poet, ya goon
He was really a Renaissance man
Writing songs and plays and sketches & 'toons
He nearly had an EGOT in hand.
His children's books were only one chapter
Of a creative life duly fulfilled
But he'll be remembered from here ever after
By the kids (young and old) that he killed.
[THRILLED, just kidding! He's not a murderer, he's amazing!]

Shel's work started off with some quirky cartoons
Witty & dark, but never morose
He did comics for Playboy—it was likely his boon
But we promise he wasn't super gross.
Collections and books were next on the list
ever-growing, of stuff that he did
And in the year '63, his boss would enlist
Uncle Shelby to write books for us kids.

But that wasn't it, oh hell no, in the meantime
He won a Grammy for A Boy Named Sue.
It was sung by the great Johnny Cash in his prime
Shel was baller at songwriting, too!
He also was up for an Oscar, for real.
(This is where the near-EGOT comes in)
Got a Golden Globe nom & had massive appeal
Even though Shel didn't quite win.
[Oh no, EGOT means Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar & Tony … not Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar & Tony! Welp, the rhyme's already done so … … Imma let it slide. Poetic license!]

Now everyone out there just feels like a poseur.
No one can ever really BE Shel.
Not Kyra Sedgwick who stars in "The Closer"
Not even the likes of Adele.
Ok, maybe Adele could possibly do it
We think she can do anything
The rest of the dummies should probably screw it,
For them, we've got quite the zing:

We're sorry to tell you, Mel Milverstein, sir
the position's already been filled.
We're sorry to say, but Shel Silverstein, sir
used up all the poems you might build.
You can copycat "Light in the Attic," old friend
and also "Where the Sidewalk Ends"
But we'll still tell you, Fel Filverstein, sir
to pack up the words that you've penned.

'Cuz you couldn't have written us "Hug of War," sir
Or "It's Dark in Here"—please just stop tryin'
(That one was written, who guessed it monsieur?
Inside the insides of a lion)
So sorry to say it, and we do hate it, Del
your effort falls short of sublime
No one can touch the pure genius of Shel
When it comes to the rhyming of rhymes.

And now, here we are, still waiting until
Shel Silv's proper heir comes around.
Maybe it's Emmy, or Peggy or Bill?
They just wait to be properly crowned.
Do you think that it's you? Could it maybe be you?
Do you like to write poems, books & toons?
If that is the case, wow, we had not a clue...
... um, we're sorry we called you a goon.

Fin.

Now get out there and re-read your favorite Shel Silverstein books, or if you haven't yet read him—today's the day! Live your dreams! Live my dreams! Live our dreams.

Do you love Shel Silverstein?

Topics: Books, Life
Tags: books we love, writers, poets, shel silverstein, writers we love, the giving tree

Write your own comment!

OR

About the Author
Chrissie Gruebel

Chrissie Gruebel is a bunch of things separated by commas, but more often than not, she’s a writer, comedian, and wearer of too many colors at once. Here she is on Twitter: @chrissiegruebel.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.