The Little Boy And The Old Man – Poems of Shel Silverstein

It was sheer serendipity that I landed on a Shel Silverstein’s poem. One thing led to another, I ended up doing a bit of deep diving. Wikipedia introduces him thus, with a picture:

“Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999), was an American poet, singer-songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter and author of children’s books. He styled himself as Uncle Shelby in his children’s books. Translated into 20 languages, his books have sold over 20 million copies.”

Two nuggets I gleaned from Wiki were about his famous cartoon and the book The Giving Tree:

“Now here’s my plan…”

His best known cartoon of the 1950s was featured on the cover of his next cartoon collection, Now Here’s My Plan: A Book of Futilities, published by Simon & Schuster in 1960. Silverstein biographer Lisa Rogak wrote:

“The cartoon on the cover that provides the book’s title would turn out to be one of his most famous and often-cited cartoons. In the cartoon, two prisoners are chained to the wall of a prison cell. Both their hands and feet are shackled. One says to the other, “Now here’s my plan.” Silverstein was both fascinated and distressed by the amount of analysis and commentary that almost immediately began to swirl around the cartoon. “A lot of people said it was a very pessimistic cartoon, which I don’t think it is at all,” he said. “There’s a lot of hope even in a hopeless situation. They analyze it and question it. I did this cartoon because I had an idea about a funny situation about two guys.”

The Giving Tree, first published in 1964 by Harper and Row, is a children’s book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. This book has become one of Silverstein’s best known titles and has been translated into more than 30 languages.

The Giving Tree is a tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree. The tree always provides the boy with what he wants: branches on which to swing, shade in which to sit, and apples to eat. As the boy grows older he requires more and more of the tree. The tree loves the boy very much and gives him anything he asks for. In the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, the tree lets the boy cut it down so the boy can build a boat in which he can sail. The boy leaves the tree, now a stump. Many years later, the boy, now an old man, returns and the tree sadly says, “I’m sorry, boy…but I have nothing left to give you.” But the boy replies, “I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest.” The tree then says, “Well, an old tree stump is a good place for sitting and resting. Come boy, sit down and rest.” The boy obliges and the tree was very happy.

Ever since the book was published, it has generated controversy and opposing opinions for its interpreted messages, on whether the tree is selfless or merely self-sacrificing, and whether the boy is selfish or reasonable in his demands of the tree. The story clearly shows childhood as being a time of relative happiness in comparison to the sacrifice and responsibility of adulthood.

So this is the source for that ‘inspirational bit’ about a tree, going around on the net!

Now onto his poems in his amazingly imaginative and quirky style…These might well be for children – that did not stop me from enjoying them, in the plain – never mind the undertones.

(To be contd.)

Source: Wikipedia

3 Responses to The Little Boy And The Old Man – Poems of Shel Silverstein

  1. S Basu says:

    you are so right, there are two ways of looking at that prisoner painting, the second story- i have read it in an email earlier, its quite widely circulated. That email was very beautifully illustrated with paintings, most probably chinese or korean.


  2. Pingback: The Oak And The Rose | Kaleidoscope

  3. Pingback: The Loser – Silverstein Again! | Kaleidoscope

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