Darling Shel

I can remember my mother reading me The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, when I was very very young. As I grew, I discovered other incredible books by the same author, like The Missing Piece and A Light in the Attic. Do you remember these magical tales? There was something so appealing, so weird and confusing yet wonderfully warm, about the worlds Shel created with his words. He transfixed me, along with countless other kids my age. Grownups, too, I’ve learned, since becoming one myself.

My favourite of all Shel’s books (and yes, we are very much on a first-name basis), was Where the Sidewalk Ends. I was given a copy by a dear family friend at Christmas of 1994, which I fortunately still have. It’s amazing anything at all from my childhood has survived the chaos of my teenage years, the many moves to and from university, the summers away, and the impulsive lending to which I am so prone. But, magically, here it still sits on my bookshelf, providing laughs and inspiration for Sylvia and I. Oh, and our names, too!

See?


(click to enlarge)

As a kid, I was fascinated by Shel, and a little afraid of him, too. The author photo on the back jacket of Sidewalk shows him seated with his legs stretched out towards the camera, feet bare and a guitar in hand, an intense and inscrutable look on his face. Who was this swarthy bearded man who wouldn’t smile while having his picture taken? Where did all of those ideas and people and places and things come from? How could he tell a story that made me laugh, and cry, and learn things, with such simple words and pictures? I never understood how these things were possible but I loved the magician who made them so.

I cried when Shel Silverstein died. His work lives in that certain room in my heart, the one we probably all have, the one that’s full of memory and longing and warmth. And any kids I happen to make in the future will be sure to meet my old friend Shel.

Sarah

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2 thoughts on “Darling Shel

  1. tobyyull says:

    herewith the lyrics to a Shel Silverstein song we got obsessed with as kids (see why). Someone loaned our family an LP ~ yeah, vinyl ~ that contained this song. He knows what kids love: Weirdness!

    Well, a man came to our house
    Our house
    Our house
    A man came to our our house
    To sell some brooms.
    So we asked him to come in,
    And we hit him with a hammer,
    And we hid him in the closet
    In my father’s room.

    But you’re always welcome at our house
    Any time of the day.
    Yes,
    You’re always welcome at our house,
    And we hope you will stay.

    Then a lady came to our house
    Our house
    Our house
    A lady came to see why I wasn’t in school.
    So we asked her to come in,
    And we gave her some poisoned lemonade,
    And hid her in the freezer where it’s nice and cool.

    But you’re always welcome in our house.
    Any time of the day.
    Yes,
    You’re always welcome at our house,
    And we hope you will stay.

    Then a kid came into our yard
    Our yard
    Our yard
    A kid came into our yard to get his ball.
    We asked him to come in,
    And we took in the basement,
    And we sealed him up inside the basement wall.

    But you’re always welcome in our house.
    Any time of the day.
    Yes,
    You’re always welcome at our house,
    And we hope you will stay.

    So when you come to our house
    Our house
    Our house
    When you come to our house,
    We’ll have some fun.
    We’ll ask you to come in,
    And we’ll take you in the kitchen,
    And we’ll put you in the oven until you’re done.

    But you’re always welcome in our house.
    Any time of the day.
    Yes,
    You’re always welcome at our house,
    And we hope you will stay.

    And we know you will stay.
    [chuckle]

    All about Shel Silverstein: http://www.musictory.com/music/Shel+Silverstein

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