Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Boy Named Sue...

is a strange little song that was rather well-known at one time after being sung by Johnny Cash. The song itself was written by a rather quirky fellow name Shel Silverstein. He also wrote several books for children that did quite well.  A Light In The Attic, was a book of poems for children that stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 2 years (1981). I remember that some of the poetry in the book generated some controversy, one poem in particular was singled out by various conservative groups because it seemed to encourage disobedience, the poem was called "How Not To Dry The Dishes". There was, in some areas of the country, quite a bit of hubbub about whether the book should be in school libraries, etc.

How Not To Have To Dry the Dishes
By Shel Silverstein

If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful, boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor—
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore.

Pretty subversive stuff.  I can see why someone might be worried about the poem bringing down the empire.

Mr. Silverstein was quite a talented and individualistic person, in addition to poetry and songwriting he also was a screenwriter, musician, playwright, illustrator and cartoonist. He had a wide ranging interest in various topics and aspects of society. He also wrote another poem, and this one deals with something more powerful than the previous poem.

Point of View
By Shel Silverstein

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless,
Christmas dinner's dark and blue,
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.

Sunday dinner isn't funny
Easter feasts are just bad luck,
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of the chicken or the duck.

Oh, how I once loved tuna salad,
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops, too,
Till I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

The best way to honor looking at "dinner from the dinner's point of view" is to begin to live as an ethical vegan...if you aren't already.


Anonymous said...

I laughed at that first poem (and your sarcasm after it). That second poem.... why is that so hard for so many people to do?

Sue Tupper

Have Gone Vegan said...

Great poems. Have never read his stuff, but always meant to pick up The Giving Tree sometime. Will do so for sure now.

veganelder said...

Thank you Sue and HGV for commenting.

Sue: I suspicion when they begin to approach taking the "dinner" point of view they get real uncomfortable real fast...and backpedal furiously.

HGV: Mr. Silverstein was quite a character and wrote re viewpoints from all over the place. Certainly, if you do some judicious selecting, you will likely find some of his stuff to your liking.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't seen those poems before. Thank you so much for posting them! The first one deals with a bit of a family joke in our house! The second one? Well, I'd like many more people to read it! But, of course, most omnis, I think, wouldn't agree that it's relevant as they don't think of the animals they eat as having any feelings... We, of course, know otherwise!

Bea Elliott said...

Well I've heard of Shel Silverstein as an author for kids books. Never knew he was also a poet, cartoonist, artist, and song writer. Of all things too! A Boy Named Sue! Boy that brings back memories. :/

I see that it was just two counties over here in Florida that attempted to ban the clever escape from dish-washing chores. (Figures).

I love the Point of View poem though --- All based on the Golden Rule. I think all kids know this instinctively - But it wouldn't hurt as a gentle reminder to have young and old alike recite it out loud, and often. So simple a message - If only we were all smart enough to heed the words! Thanks for spreading the word in your unique ways to make it so! <3

veganelder said...

Thank you Penny and Bea for commenting.

Penny: We do know otherwise, don't we...

Bea: Mr. Silverstein was a multifaceted creative and talented fellow who walked his own path and often had wise things to say. The Boy Named Sue thing was new to me too...good for him.