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About this poet

Shel Silverstein was born on September 25, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, and began writing and drawing at a young age. He became a cartoonist, playwright, poet, performer, recording artist, and Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated songwriter.

Silverstein is best known as the author of iconic books of prose and poetry for young readers. His works include such modern classics as Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back (1963), The Giving Tree (1964), A Giraffe and a Half (1964), The Missing Piece (1976), and The Missing Piece Meets the Big O (1981). His immensely popular poetry collections are Where the Sidewalk Ends, a 1974 Michigan Young Readers Award winner; A Light in the Attic, recipient of the School Library Journal Best Books Award in 1982; Falling Up (1996); and Don’t Bump the Glump! And Other Fantasies, which was originally published in 1963 and reissued in 2008. Runny Babbit, a posthumous poetry collection of spoonerisms, was conceived and completed before his death.

Silverstein’s books, which he also illustrated, are characterized by a deft mixing of the sly and the serious, the macabre, and the just plain silly. His unique imagination and bold brand of humor is beloved by countless adults and children throughout the world. He died on May 10, 1999.

Sick

Shel Silverstein, 1930 - 1999
"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

From Shel Silverstein: Poems and Drawings; originally appeared in Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Copyright © 2003 by HarperCollins Children's Books. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Shel Silverstein: Poems and Drawings; originally appeared in Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Copyright © 2003 by HarperCollins Children's Books. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein

Poet, cartoonist, playwright, performer, recording artist, and songwriter Shel Silverstein is best known as the award-winning author of iconic books of prose and poetry for young readers. 

by this poet

poem
Everything's wrong,
Days are too long,
Sunshine's too hot,
Wind is too strong.
Clouds are too fluffy,
Grass is too green,
Ground is too dusty,
Sheets are too clean.
Stars are too twinkly,
Moon is too high,
Water's too drippy,
Sand is too dry.
Rocks are too heavy,
Feathers too light,
Kids are too noisy,
Shoes are