Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shel Silverstein. . .And taking out Garbage

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would Not Take the Garbage Out
by Shel Silverstein

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door. . .
(more gross garbage here)
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
(and still more--wonderful stuff!)
At last the garbage reached so high that finally it touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout said,
"OK, I'll take the garbage out!"
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
(more about how far the garbage reached)
And there in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot right now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!

I woke in the middle of the night last night reciting this poem from my childhood. My sisters and I loved Shel Silverstein and Ogden Nash, and threw the poems back and forth like bouncing rubber balls, laughing at the rhymes, memorizing, competing for who knew the most lines and poems. There were other authors, too, but those were our favorites. My children, I believe, have grown "Sick" of the endless repetition of the poems. They never quite caught the bug, though not because I didn't try. 

But since I was awake and thinking and all, sort of, grown-up now, this silly poem began to mean something different. It formed over the next hour as I thought about it and knew it was my blog for today. Have I failed to take my garbage out? Is that why it popped into my mind?

I've put off a few apologies. Left some kind words unsaid. I pushed health concerns to the back of my mind, with consequences I never imagined. I've let friends drift. I overlooked some shortcomings in my own life because it was easier. Small things accumulated, like piles of old magazines. 

Garbage piled up.  
Maybe it's time I take the garbage out.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

Here's a link to the entire poem, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, which which comes from Shel Silverstein's collection of drawings and poems, "Where the Sidewalk Ends," Harper Collins, NY, 1974.

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