Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein! 16 Quotes & Poems To Inspire You Today

Born on September 25, 1930, poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, screenwriter, and children's author Shel Silverstein would have been 85 today. Probably best known for his books of poetry like Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and The Giving Tree, Silverstein actually began his professional career as a cartoonist for Playboy.

Simultaneously sly and serious, dark and silly, his words and art have been commended for their appeal to both adults and children. It's no wonder Silverstein's works have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

In honor of his unique imagination and humor, here are 16 Silverstein poems and quotes to inspire you today.


There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

"I feel 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

That voice that speaks inside. ("The Voice")

When I was a kid — 12 to 14, I'd much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls, but I couldn't play ball. I couldn't dance. Luckily, the girls didn't want me. Not much I could do about that. So I started to draw and to write. I was also lucky that I didn't have anybody to copy, be impressed by. I had developed my own style ... —Publishers Weekly

Listen to the mustn'ts, child,

Listen to the don'ts.

Listen to the shouldn'ts.

The impossibles, the won'ts.

Listen to the never haves.

Then listen close to me —

Anything can happen, child,

Anything can be. ("Listen to the Mustn'ts")

People who say they create only themselves and don't care if they're published ... I hate to hear talk like that. If it's good, it's too good not to share. —Publishers Weekly

It's amazing the difference

A bit of sky can make. ("Sky Seasoning")

She had blue skin,

And so did he.

He kept it hid

And so did she.

They searched for blue

Their whole life through,

Then passed right by —

And never knew. ("The Masks")

While other people smiled and cried

And loved and reached and touched and felt.

Lester sat amid his wealth

Stacked mountain-high like stacks of gold.

Sat and counted — and grew old ...

He wasted his wishes on wishing. ("Lester")

Don't be dependent on anyone else. I want to go everywhere, look at, and listen to everything. You can go crazy with some of the wonderful stuff there is in life. —Publishers Weekly

But all the magic I've known

I had to make myself. ("Magic")

If there is a book you want to read but isn't written yet, write it.

And he didn't really know where he was going, but he did know he was going somewhere, because you really have to go somewhere, don't you? ―Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back

Just ’cause somethin’ ain’t been done

Don’t mean it can’t be did.

We’re all worth the same

When we turn off the light. ("No Difference")

Never explain what you do. It speaks for itself. You only muddle it by talking about it. —Aardvark magazine

How much good inside a day?

Depends how good you live ’em. ("How Many, How Much")

"Well" said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, "well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down ... and rest." And the tree was happy... —The Giving Tree

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