Wednesday, June 7, 2023


This is Shel Silverstein's poem, The Giving Tree.  It was controversial in its day.  I found it quite moving and worthy of sharing.  Any thoughts?

 Once there was a tree...

and she loved a little boy.

And every day 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 a house.

And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time.

And when he came back,

the tree was 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 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.

The Giving Tree 


Shel Silverstein

Sheldon Allan Silverstein (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999) was an American writer, poet, cartoonist, singer-songwriter, musician, and playwright. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Silverstein briefly attended university before being drafted into the United States Army.  During his rise to prominence in the 1950s, his illustrations were published in various newspapers and magazines


  1. The tree gave, and the boy took. And my heart aches for the permanent givers.

    1. Yes, it would be hard but giving without the thought of receiving anything in return is a noble thing. Thanks Sue :)

  2. Oh my gosh, this is one of the saddest poems I have ever read. I want to kill that man!!!

    1. For some reason your reaction made me smile Ginny and I love your comment :) I was hesitant in sharing the poem but I thought it was truly beautiful and decided to go ahead. The old tree gave that little boy its all.

  3. The tree photos are just magnificent! The poem is very charming to read

    1. Thank you roentare. I am a tree lover and their shapes and differences, and their leaves, have always fascinated me :)

  4. I like it. I don't see why this would be controversial. I see it as two friends. One needy and only takes and the other willing to give everything to make the boy happy.

    1. I agree with you Ann. It was controversial as many publishers turned Silverstein down because they thought it would be too sad for children to read. I see it as a life-lesson, but I always think that parents know their children best and ought to be the judge of what they can read or not read, and at what age they think they can handle it emotionally, and so on. Or not let them read a book at all until they are old enough to read what they want, within ethical and legal limits of course. The subject can be a limitless whirlpool.

  5. Some give their all for love.

    1. Yes, it's better to be a giver than a receiver. Some give everything of themselves and expect nothing in return, no thanks, no recognition, so noble! Thanks Donna, and sending a hug to you too :)

  6. Hello,
    It is a sad poem, but I guess the ending is somewhat happy.
    Take care, enjoy your day!

    1. Yes, very much so and I am happy the ending was a good one, though perhaps bittersweet. Thank you Eileen, you take care and enjoy your day also.

  7. Shel Silverstein is one of my favorites. I used some of his work for my middle school kids.

    1. He was a brilliant writer, good to know you used his work with your middle school kids. I have said it before, but I would have loved to have had you as a teacher Red, true! :)

  8. I had already decided the end of it and it was not that he sat on the stump. I had thought his coffin was made from what was left of the tree. I don't see anything controversial at all. humans are givers or takers, just like the tree and the boy

    1. That's an interesting analogy about the tree stump Sandra. Yes, I agree, givers and takers are all part of the human dynamic. Thanks for this, I enjoyed reading your take on this poem :)

  9. This really makes you think about life, never fair.

    1. Thank you Christine, it's very thought provoking I agree :)

  10. Smutna opowieść choć tak wygląda nasze życie. Piękne fotografie.. Miłego weekendu😊

    1. Tak prawdziwe! Zawsze doceniam twoje odwiedziny, dziękuję!

  11. The Giving Tree is quite a read, interesting that it was once controversial. It would be a good talking point now, I just wish the boy had returned with some water for the tree at some point!

    1. Thank you Wren and yes, that would have been very nice.

  12. I have loved this poem forever.

    1. That's wonderful Jeanie, it is a beautiful poem.


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