Shel was born in Chicago Illinois into a Jewish family. He was drafted into the military during university and served in Korea and Japan. He married Susan Taylor, had one daughter with Susan. His wife died in 1975 and his daughter in 1982. He married again and had a son with Sarah Spencer.
The Ugliest Man in Town
Handsome guys get girls that are pretty,
Other guys make it cause they're clever and witty,
But the only love I ever got, I got out of pity,
'Cause I'm the ugliest guy in town.
Yeah, I drive down the road in a platinum car,
Use hundred dollar bills to light my cigar,
But still an' all, you know, that won't get you very far,
When you're the ugliest man in town.
There was a note on the doorstep where I was found,
Is said, "This sweet child weighs eleven pounds,
So bring him up healthy, wealthy and sound,
Keep his back to the light, don't let him turn around.
Yeah, all you women, you're heartless and cold.
All you want is my silver and gold.
Say now, don't you know I've got a beautiful soul,
Though I'm the ugliest man in town?
Yeah, I'm so ugly, I shave in the dark,
Kids start to cry when I walk through the park,
Clocks stop tickin' and dogs start to bark
Whenever I'm around.
Yeah, I walk down the street and the girls all hiss me,
If I died tomorrow, not one of them would miss me.
Only reason they ball me is they can't stand to kiss me.
I'm the ugliest man in town.
Oh, yeah, the ugliest man in town.
Shel Silverstein - Ugliest Man In Town
Silverstein rhymes a lot in his poems usually using humor too. Silverstein's poems are mostly funny because they're unrealistic and exaggerated. Take the the poem above, clocks won’t stop ticking just because someone walked past it. Using the basic quatrain stanza formation it makes it easy for him to rhyme and give rhythm to his works. Silverstein uses many poetic devices; onomatopoeia, simile, personification, and alliteration. Silverstein’s sense of humor, in poems, was generally dark and Silverstein could be irreverent at times. Thus giving his poems a distinct taste while reading.
I think that this poem can be tied to a gay man. Because back in the 1960’s when Silverstein released it gay’s weren’t accepted as they are now. The poem is trying to explain how the gay man feels while walking through town and just being an outcast. Almost as if someone can catch the gay like they could catch leprosy.
Norris The Nub
I met her one day, walking in the park
She had a certain glow, like a light in the dark
Her complexion is unmatched, she's every girl's demise
Luscious hair, a beautiful smile, and silver eyes
Is this what falling in love feels like? My head shakes
My stomach is twisted, my chest aches
This cannot be right,
One does not simply fall in love at first sight
One. Two. Three. It's all up to me
It's do or die
So I say
Sally Dismay came up to me one day
“Do you love me” she said
“I’ll love you when cats and dogs rain from the sky”
And with that i went on my way
She ran after me crying
“I’ll love you tomorrow”
“I’ll love you next week”
So I pulled out my gun and shot at her feet
And that very next day from across the street
“I love you! I love you!” called Sally Dismay
With a groan and a sigh, I looked her in the eye
“Sally Dismay, Sally Dismay. I hate you, please be on your way”
Next week came along without a Sally in sight
“Ahhh this is going to be a lovely night”
Little did I know that to night was the night
Where my life would be changed forever
Just before dawn I wake with a jump
I look out my window, my eyes wide as can be
It’s raining cats and dogs I see
I take a step back, what happens next?
So I string up a rope
I won’t love sally dismay
She’s a failure and a joke
So you see, I must end it this way.
A Climber's Life
It hurts when you start
In your hands
And in your feet
There is no way to cheat
Climb all day
Sleep all night
Now, don’t get hurt
Be wary and alert
Travel around the world
From mountain top to mountain top
Does it ever look so small
Please answer your mother's call
No ropes no pads
One tiny fall
It’s the end of it all
As a poet I've learned that poetry isn’t all about rhyming. Although you can use rhyming schemes in your poetry it’s not the only thing to be used. Alliteration, consonance, assonance, similes, metaphors, and symbolism are all things poets use to make their poems come to life, so to speak. Also, the formatting of the poem itself is used by poets to give the poem's rhythm. In the three poems I created I used; rhyming, symbolism, some similes, and dark humor. Which is one of Silverstein's techniques, he uses dark humor in lots of his poems to keep his humorous theme but also to be serious at times. I don’t think that I’m great at making poems and applying the devices to my poems but the only real way to get better at it is practice. I enjoyed writing these poems and so if i end up writing more outside of a school project i can work on applying the devices to make my poems better.