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Shel Silverstein is one of the most well-known poets for Children.Shel Silverstein was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He was born September 25th, 1930. His birth name is Sheldon Alan Silverstein but he is referred to as Uncle Sheldon or Shel Silverstein. He had no athletic ability and no girls noticed him, which is the reason why he began to write at the age of 12. He had no experience with other poems so he made up his own writing techniques. In the 1950's, Silverstein entered the military and worked as a cartoonist. Later on, he met up with Ursula Nordstrom who convinced him to begin writing poetry for children, that is when Shel Silverstein wrote the book called "Where the Sidewalk Ends," and "Light in the Attic." In his adulthood he concentrated more on poetry and making children happy. He was divorced and had one child, a girl. His daughter probably motivated him to write exciting poetry for children to be entertained like the way he did with his daughter.


Boa Constrictor
Oh, I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor,
And I don't like it--one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee,
It's up to my knee.
Oh my,
It's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle,
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread,
It's upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff . . .

Reflection: The poem above is very famous and well known by children. I liked this poem because this poem is fun and involves a person being eaten by a Boa Constrictor. The thing that stands out to me the most in the poem is when the author says, "I'm being eaten by a Boa Constrictor." This stood out the most to me because it's not everyday that you hear someone say that, so i thought it was really unique and creative that Silverstein put that in his poem. In the poem I saw the author using rhyme in a silly way for the children. One poetic device that Shel used in his poem, "Boa Constrictor" is repetition.This is a good poetic device because it attracts the reader. Later while researching, what interested me was that Silverstein became a cartoonist for the magazine, Playboy in 1956, and he didn't begin writing for children until 1963, which is after he worked for two other magazine companies. This is where he admitted that he never thought he would write for children, "I never planned to write or draw for kids. It was Toni Ungerer, a friend of mine, who insisted...practically dragged me, kicking and screaming, into [editor] Ursula Nordstrom's office. And she convinced me that Toni was right, I could do children's books."

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?

Reflection: This poem interested me and stood out because of the excellent use of personification throughout the entire poem. We all know that flowers don't have a language, that caterpillars don't talk, starlings don't gossip, and that snowflakes don't cry. All these things are unrealistic, but are given human qualities by using personification. The author uses this form of figurative language to engage the reader to the poem. Shel Silverstein uses figurative language in almost all of his poems which i feel is a good poetic device. The use of personification Stands out in his poem and makes it flow better. There is also a use of imagery in the poem which stands out to me. While I read the poem I could imagine the flowers speaking, the crying of the snowflakes, and the gossip of the starlings. Being able to imagine the poem in my head helps me understand it better. This poem can relate to when he worked as a cartoonist in the military. These two relate because in cartoons these devices are used to make the cartoon funny. This can also relate to when he was lonely and nobody noticed him. These two can relate because he says how he joined in with the sadness of the snow, and shows the relationship that the poet had with the flowers and the caterpillars when he had nobody else to talk to. In conclusion, I think this poem is showing what he went through when he was younger and had no friends to talk to.

He influenced his readers by making unique, simple, and easy to interpret. What he strove for was to influence his readers by writing poems that would connect to everybody. He wrote about, Sports, Dreaming, Hoping, Eating, and many more. He left people wanting more, and satisfied them by writing more poems. We think that this is a good strategy to use while writing poetry.
A quote stated by Shel Silverstein was, "There Is A Voice Inside Of You,That Whispers All Day Long,I Feel That 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." This quote is very realistic and shows how us humans should live our life. We agree with this quote because we should do what our heart tells us to and not be influenced by our surroundings. Shel Silverstein died on May 10, 1999. He died in his home by a massive heart failure. He was discovered by the maids who had come to clean. He died at the age of 68.

Links:
Shel Silverstein's Biography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shel_Silverstein

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Shel Silverstein playing the Guitar