15 July 2010

the giving tree.

the Giving Tree, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

I remember the first time I heard that poem. I don't recall how old I was nor what grade I was in, but I do remember I was young and in elementary school and my friend Amy had brought in Shel Silverstein's book, "The Giving Tree," to share with the class...

Instantly my young self fell in love with the poem thinking about the sweetness of magical friends and what a good tree it was to the little boy...

However, age and experience does tends to change one's perspective doesn't it?

I remember a couple of years ago when I was hit with a sudden burst of nostalgia for The Muppet Show and purchased several DVD's to watch with my daughter, containing fantastically classic episodes with stars like Carol Burnette, Peter Sellers, Steve Martin, Elton John, and Julie Andrews... I was amazed at the amount of adult humor each show contained -- stuff that had sailed right over my head as a child. I had watched The Muppet Show faithfully as a little girl (back before remote controls when the TV Guide told you what was on and when) and each episode was new to me all over again and I still love it. But, some thirty years later, I am watching with a different pair of eyes...

And The Giving Tree, well, it's no longer that happy childhood poem for me. --It's a sad reality. It's life in full circle. And as we age and endure all that life throws at us, our experiences deepening in steep gashes, that circle repeats: as the boy, as the tree, as the boy, as the tree...

The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein

Once there was a tree....
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree....
very much.
And the tree was happy.
But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree
and the tree said, "Come, Boy, come and
climb up my trunk and swing from my
branches and eat apples and play in my
shade and be happy."
"I am too big to climb and play" said
the boy.
"I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money?"
"I'm sorry," said the tree, "but I
have no money.
I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in
the city. Then you will have money and
you will be happy."
And so the boy climbed up the
tree and gathered her apples
and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time....
and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back
and the tree shook with joy
and she said, "Come, Boy, climb up my trunk
and swing from my branches and be happy."
"I am too busy to climb trees," said the boy.
"I want a house to keep me warm," he said.
"I want a wife and I want children,
and so I need a house.
Can you give me a house?"
"I have no house," said the tree.
"The forest is my house,
but you may cut off
my branches and build a
house. Then you will be happy."

And so the boy cut off her branches
and carried them away
to build his house.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time.
And when he came back,
the tree was so happy
she could hardly speak.
"Come, Boy," she whispered,
"come and play."
"I am too old and sad to play,"
said the boy.
"I want a boat that will
take me far away from here.
Can you give me a boat?"
"Cut down my trunk
and make a boat," said the tree.
"Then you can sail away...
and be happy."
And so the boy cut down her trunk
and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy
... but not really.

And after a long time
the boy came back again.
"I am sorry, Boy,"
said the tree, "but I have nothing
left to give you -
My apples are gone."
"My teeth are too weak
for apples," said the boy.
"My branches are gone,"
said the tree. "You
cannot swing on them - "
"I am too old to swing
on branches," said the boy.
"My trunk is gone," said the tree.
"You cannot climb - "
"I am too tired to climb" said the boy.
"I am sorry," sighed the tree.
"I wish that I could give you something....
but I have nothing left.
I am just an old stump.
I am sorry...."
"I don't need very much now," said the boy.
"just a quiet place to sit and rest.
I am very tired."
"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. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.


  1. Yup, I agree, different time, different eyes. I think the Pee Wee Herman show made this all very evident. Most kids shows are written by adults and adults are mostly all about me me me. And that is what really makes kids shows great. As usual your post give way to thought.

  2. I must have lived under a rock, becuase I had never even HEARD of The Giving Tree until last year. All these ladies at school were going on and on about how great it is. So I picked it up.

    I could not believe what a rude, selfish little boy this was. Give me, give me, give me more. What is that teaching our kids? How horrible! I hated it, and probably made a few enemies for opening other people's eyes to the dark side of the book. :(

    I still love my Cat in the Hat. How can you beat that??

  3. Yes, the Cat in the Hat ROCKS! (one of the few ASL signs my daughter will spontaneously sign: "cat in hat")

    Bit o' trivia for you... Did you know that prior to his genius children's books, Theodor Seuss Geisel was a political cartoonist during WWII? Amazing contrast. Seeing his previous works won't make you love the Cat any less, but it's kinda like finding out that Mr. Roger's was a Green Beret and a minister!

  4. Crystal -- one of my favourite websites to sit and browse and dream about buying things: