Sick by Shel Silverstein

Despite his many attributes he made the most prominent splash as a songwriter and was nominated for both Grammy and Oscar. “Sick” is another one of Shel Silverstein’s humorous poems – it is about a little girl trying to convince her parents not to send her to school as she keeps on naming diseases.



“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay,
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more–that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue–
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke–
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is–what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is—Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

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Analysis of “Sick”

“Sick” is a poem that was published in the 1970 book called “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by the acclaimed poet, cartoonist, songwriter, and musician Shel Silverstein. It is the colloquy of a little girl named Peggy Ann McKay with her parents whom she is trying to convince not to send her to school. She comes up with all these symptoms of various dreadful diseases such as the mumps and the measles, the chickenpox and other whatnots. However, the moment she learns that today is Saturday, she’s miraculously healed and then rushes outside to play.

One of the themes of the poem is childhood innocence. She tries so hard to make her parents believe that she is sick not for once realizing that her lie has been long caught.The poem showcases a little girl’s determination for not going to school and her imagination that she uses to create symptoms that would prove her to be ailing. Her reluctance to go to school has unbarred her imagination and she shows no sign of slowing down until she has convinced everyone that she cannot go to school. She says that she has the measles and mumps and purple bumps, some rash and gash, tonsils the size of rocks and sixteen chicken pox.

She invents some more to add to her arsenal but the latter part of the poem is where we see her unique imagination as she discovers a few more symptoms. She claims that her hip hurts when she moves her chin and mentions that her belly button’s caving in and that her appendix “pains every time it rains”.The poem is written for children and can easily be related to by them because the scenario that the author uses is one that is a routine.

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