365 Days of Earrings

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shel Silverstein's Surprise

"The award-winning cartoonist, poet, essayist, journalist, and composer Shel Silverstein  was born on this day in Chicago, Illinois, in 1932," I read this morning in the Writer's Almanac. I went to look for my favorite of his books of poetry, Where the Sidewalk Ends. It must be at school. So I looked through A Light in the Attic, and I found some poems that go nicely with some of my earrings.
These bold copper stars for
              Somebody Has To:
Somebody has to go polish the stars,
They're looking a little bit dull.
Somebody has to go polish the stars,
For the eagles and starlings and gulls
Have all been complaining they're tarnished and worn.
They say they want new ones we cannot afford,
So please get your rags
And your polishing jars.
Somebody has to go polish the stars.

But I think I'd like to wear them this winter. And I feel the same way about these trees, much as I love

Grandma sent the hammock,
The good Lord sent the breeze.
I'm here to do the swinging--
Now, who's gonna move the trees?

The only Shel Silverstein book that I know I don't like is his most famous, The Giving Tree. What's to like about a story in which one party gives and gives and gives until it dies, and the other party just keeps on asking for more? People read it as if it's a love story. That's not love, that's abuse.

So I settled on this pair of earrings, to go with

My Grandpa went to Myrtle Beach
And sent us back a turtle each.
And then he went to Katmandu
And mailed a real live Cockatoo.
From Rio an iguana came,
A smelly goat arrived from Spain.
Now he's in India, you see--
My Grandpa always thinks of me.

The full impact of Silverstein's poetry often depends on his illustrations. When reading them aloud to children, I love the moment when they spy the picture and discover the twist hidden in the drawing. And I love watching their eyes bounce back and forth between the words and the illustrations, looking for the magic they know will appear. Silverstein died alone in 1999.

My Indian elephants I bought at the Smithsonian gift shop long ago, in preparation for my school's first culture study of India in 1994. I repaired them for our India study in 2010.

They, like Silverstein's poetry books, make me smile.

1 comment:

Phoebe said...

I'm so glad to see this dedication to Shel Silverstein. I was thinking about him all day :)