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13 Shel Silverstein Poems

I decided to do a 13 Things, and since I have recently been rereading Shel Silverstein books of poetry I made this list of my favorite ones. Here are what I think are my 13 Favorite Shel Silverstein poems (for today anyways)

1. musn’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, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.

2.  Magic
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.

3. Colors
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 its silver when its wet,
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.

All the woulda-coulda-shouldas
Layin’ in the sun,
Talkin’ ’bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…
But all those woulda-coulda-shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did

5. The Voice
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel 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.

6. 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 bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

7. Snowball
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as can be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for it’s head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first – It wet the bed.

8. Forgotten Language
Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . .
How did it go?
How did it go?

9. Pirate Dreams
Needles and pins, Needles and pins,
Sew me a sail to catch me the wind.
Sew me a sail strong as the gale,
Carpenter, bring out your hammers and nails.
Hammers and nails, hammers and nails,
Build me a boat to go chasing the whales.
Chasing the whales, sailing the blue
Find me a captain and sign me a crew.
Captain and crew, captain and crew,
Take me, oh take me to anywhere new.

10. Polar Bear
There’s a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire–
He likes it ’cause it’s cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He’s nibbling the noodles,
And munching the rice,
He’s slurping the soda,
He’s licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he’s in there–
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.

11. Underface
Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me.

12. Yesees And Noees
The Yesees said yes to anything
That anyone suggested.
The Noees said no to everything
Unless it was proven and tested.
So the Yesees all died of much too much
And the Noees all died of fright,
But somehow I think the Thinkforyourselfees
All came out all right.

13. My Rules
If you want to marry me, here’s what you’ll have to do:
You must learn how to make a perfect chicken-dumpling stew.
And you must sew my holey socks,
And soothe my troubled mind,
And develop the knack for scratching my back,
And keep my shoes spotlessly shined.
And while I rest you must rake up the leaves,
And when it is hailing and snowing
You must shovel the walk…and be still when I talk,
And-hey-where are you going?

These were not really in the ORDER of my faves, but they are in there. Musn’ts is always at the top though. When I was small I was ALWAYS told No. That I couldn’t do something because of some reason or another. When I was in second grade my teacher (I can’t even remember her name now) read one poem from “Where the Sidewalk Ends” if we were all quiet when we walked through the halls back from recess. I was amazed by these poems. I had never ever heard poetry just for the sake of saying crazy things. I was in love. It was so much like the music I craved, I just read them over and over and over. The other day, when unpacking my last box of books from when I moved SIX MONTHS AGO, I found the old, worn, tattered from a thousand little children’s hands, copy I bought from the library when I was in middle school.  I sat down and read a poem a night to two kids I really hope never, ever forget the power that Shel Silverstein gave to every child in between silly poems when he penned things like “musn’ts”. If you have never read any of his stuff I recommend “Where The Sidewalk Ends” and “Light In The Attic” and of course, “The Giving Tree”. Do you have a fave Shel Silverstein poem?


NinjaKitty loves to pounce on her enemies, dark, dangerous, quick and deadly. In her time when not skulking in shadows and hiding in darkness she devours books and leaves reviews.

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4 Responses to 13 Shel Silverstein Poems

  • MamaKitty says:

    I loved Shel Silverstein as a kid! I think my favorite is probably My Rules. LOVE.
    MamaKitty recently posted..13 Shel Silverstein Poems

  • Ohhhh. I had forgotten about The Musnt’s.

    I’ve loved Shel Silverstein forever. I remember The Giving Tree. Always thought that kid was a total ass and the tree should have told him to take a hike. LOL But my heart always ALWAYS belonged to Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. I would read them for HOURS. I’m not actually sure how I stumbled upon them. That would have been a question my mom might have been able to answer, but I’m thinking it was her. She was always trying to encourage my love of reading and of poetry in any way she could, so I always had copies of A Child’s Garden of Verses, Mother Goose, Shel Silverstein, etc. in the house.

    My favorite was on the flyleaf of Where the Sidewalk Ends.

    An Invitation

    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.
    Come in!
    Come in!

    • NinjaKitty says:

      Lynda – you know Invitation was on my list but I realized I had more than 13 so I had to cut it down. One of my others was this one:
      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 didn’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 then 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!

      I have always loved that one.

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