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Shel Silverstein Poetry Unit

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Amy Valentin

on 14 June 2013

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Transcript of Shel Silverstein Poetry Unit

Who was he?
Hug O'War
Love Conquers All
Poetry Analysis
In the poem “Whatif” by Shel Silverstein, the poet describes the doubts he starts thinking about before going to bed. Using the pronouns “I”, he is including the readers as well as himself. The assumption is that both the narrator and the reader can have misgivings in life. Literally, he is referring to little bugs that crawl in his ear and sing a song about his fears while lying in bed at night. The “Whatifs” symbolize childish fears that come to his mind. Overall, he uses words like “pranced” and “sang their same old Whatif song” to emphasized a partly humorous and partly serious mood for the reader. Silverstein’s use of “crawled inside my ear” and “wind tears up my kite” personifies what he is implying. The alliteration “pranced and partied” is used in the poem, and the repetition of “Whatif” gives it the whole concept of what it is about. The title gives the reader an idea of doubts and fears a person could have in his/her life.
September 25, 1930 in Chicago, IL - May 9, 1999 in Key West, FL from a heart failure
Jewish Nathan & Helen Silverstein & sister Peggy
Poet, singer/songwriter, cartoonist, screenwriter & author of children's books ("Uncle Shelby")
Art Institute of Chicago -> Roosevelt University (1948)
Never planned on writing children's books
Joined Army (1953)
Started drawing while serving in Japan & Korea
Traveled to Africa, Spain, Mexico, London
Drew for magazines after stint in Army
Playboy magazines gave him national recognition popularity (1957-1970s)
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
Shel Silverstein
I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.
Why do we fight?
With all our might
Why can't we share the love,
from the man above
Who gives us the strength to be
Stronger than a knight's armored glove
To protect and to hold
Where everyone hugs
Creating fairness uniting us all
Unfurling the wings we've been holding back
To show our love by standing tall
Amy Valentin
American Literature
Period 2
Married Susan Hastings (1970)
Daughter Shoshanna Silverstein on June 30, 1970
Wife died on June 29, 1975 in Baltimore, Maryland
Daughter died at age 11 in Baltimore on April 24, 1982 from cerebral aneurysm
Girlfriend Sarah Spencer & had a boy named Matthew (1983)
Best-seller in children's books
"The Giving Tree" (1964) sold over half million copies
Nominated for Oscar & Golden Globe for song "I'm Checking Out" in film "Postcards from the Edge"
Grammy Award for song "A Boy Named Sue" (1970)
"Where the Sidewalk Ends" (1974)
"A Light in the Attic" (1981)
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (2002)
"A Light in the Attic" (1981)
"Where the Sidewalk Ends" (1974)
"Shel Silverstein Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 04 June 2013.
"Shel Silverstein Poems and Poetry." Shel Silverstein Poems and Poetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 04
"Shel Silverstein." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 June 2013.
"Shel Silverstein." Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 04
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