The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

“The Giving Tree” is one of Shel Silverstein’s most well-known works. It was written and illustrated by him in the year 1964. It is published as a children’s picture book. The poem celebrates nature’s giving, and laments humans’ taking, and reminds us about the little things in life that bring us the most happiness.

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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.

Analysis of Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”

Shel Silverstein, a man of many talents, wrote and illustrated the poem “The Giving Tree,” one of his most well-known works in a children’s picture book in 1964. It is a poem that celebrates nature’s giving to mankind and laments humans’ taking, reminding the readers that happiness in life exists in the little things.

The book follows the lives of a young boy and a beautiful apple tree, who form a strong connection with each other. The tree is very “giving,” and the boy grows into a “taking” teenager. Even though the boy grows old in the story, the tree addresses him as “boy” his entire life.

The boy enjoys playing with the tree throughout his childhood. He eats her apples, swings from her branches, and climbs her trunk. However, as time passes by, the boy spends less time with the tree and only visits her when he needs material gains at different points of his life. Each time, the tree gives the boy parts of herself in an effort to make the boy happy. The boy gains a house from her branches, money from her apples, and a boat from her trunk. Fulfilling his wishes makes the tree happy.

In the end of the poem, the boy and the tree realize how damaging their “taking” and “giving” natures has turned. Most of the tree’s trunk has been cut down, and she is not happy now since she is left with just a stump. The boy meets the tree once more as an elderly man and says that he really needs “a quiet place to sit and rest,” which the tree could give. “The tree was happy” with this last stage of giving. The poem is a tale of how unconditional Mother Nature is in providing humans with what they want.

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