Poetry Sunday: Sick by Shel Silverstein

When my kids were little, like most children, there was nothing they loved better than being read to. What is it about a parent sharing a book with a child that is such a powerful and, I would argue, a life-changing experience, both for the child and the parent?

Some of the favorites of my daughters and myself were poems by Shel Silverstein. Silverstein had the knack for unerringly expressing the feelings of what it was like to be a child. Especially what it was like to be a child who really, really didn't want to go to school that day!


by Shel Silverstein, 1930 - 1999
“I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more—that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut—my eyes are blue—
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke—
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”


  1. Up to the last three sentences, that sounded like being 65 years old! Where's my Saturday? (Seriously, that poem is wonderful.)

  2. He is the best! I still feel that way some days.

  3. I've loved Shel Silverstein since I was a school librarian in another life about 100 years ago. When I would read his poems to the children they would light up joy. He was a great American poet who will never be forgotten. P. x

    1. He certainly won't be forgotten by my children or me. I still take down his books occasionally and read for a while when I need a day brightener. Never fails!

  4. I've always loved Shel Silverstein! I don't remember if I read this particular poem to my youngest daughter, but it certainly would have been relevant to her:) I've been AWOL from blogging for awhile, so I hope you had a happy holiday season!

    1. Welcome back, Rose. I hope your holiday with your family was good also. Silverstein was absolutely a poetic genius. Gone too soon, but thank goodness, his words live on.

  5. Love this poem, Dorothy! It's so authentic; he captured the voice of the condemned unlike anyone I've ever read. ;-) Plus, who wouldn't like a day off once in a while?! ;-)

    1. Indeed. We all need to play hooky once in a while.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

Overboard by Sara Paretsky: A review

The Investigator by John Sandford: A review