Shel Silverstein: The Man And The Artist

1610 words - 7 pages

“If you want to find out what a writer or a cartoonist really feels, look at his work. That's enough.”(BrainyQuote.com). Shel Silverstein believed that an artist’s work was an embodiment of their beliefs and experiences. Silverstein was an artist in many ways, one of them being poetry. The work Silverstein did in multiple art forms along with his honest way of writing allowed for great popularity .

Shel Silverstein was a gifted and artistic man who used his talents in other areas to enhance his poetry. Silverstein was born in Chicago on September 25, 1930 and he died on May 10,1999 in Florida. From a very young age, Silverstein experimented in creative arts such as writing and drawing (Poets.org). Later on, he illustrated his poems and books. Silverstein’s book The Giving Tree is one of the most discussed children’s books of all time. Depicting a parallel of the parent/child relationship, The Giving Tree has been translated into over 30 languages and continues to be distinguished as one of the best Children’s books ever written (Bio.com). Artistic in multiple ways, Silverstein used his work to reflect his unique sense of humor and ability as a cartoonist. According to Biography.com, he worked as a cartoonist for magazines such as Look, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy as well as creating art to go with many of his poems. He was also a songwriter who worked alongside Johnny Cash. This may have translated into his writing by way of rhythm. His darkly humorous and inventive style of writing remains one of a kind even after his death (PoetryFoundation.org).

Shel Silverstein’s wit combined with his unconventional style sets him apart from other poets. His poems, though written mostly for children, contain double meanings that make them enjoyable for adult readers as well. Diving Board uses this tactic to symbolize the common problem of procrastination. If a child were to read Diving Board they would picture someone standing at the edge of a diving board, refusing to jump. However, if an adult were to read the same poem, they would see the deeper meaning Silverstein left embedded in his words. He drew cartoons to either go along with each poem, or as a part of the poem. In Deaf Donald he incorporated his own drawings in place of words to communicate a vital part of the poem, that Donald could not communicate like Sue. Silverstein used rhyming and repetition often and rarely wrote in any form besides Free Verse. He was a songwriter along with his work in poetry. The songs he wrote incorporated the reoccurring themes of rhyme and repetition. He is also known for his lyrical poems. A Boy Named Sue, a song made famous by Johnny Cash, was written by Silverstein and it displays very similar qualities to his poems(Bio.com). As said in Painful Poem: Deaf Love for Talkie his sense of humor combined with his philosophical take on life made him unique and his poems relatable. Whether it be in the form of a song or written as a poem, Silverstein wrote from the...

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