Literary Nostalgia

Hug O’ War

I will not play at tug o ‘war.

I’d rather play at hug o’ war,

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs,

Where everyone giggles

And rolls on the rug,

Where everyone kisses,

And everyone grins,

And everyone cuddles,

And everyone wins.

~Shel Silverstein

I was about ten, and my mom was studying education at the University of Alberta, which gave me access to libraries. Vast, massive libraries, the aisles smelling of paper, row upon row of books, each spine promising a story, a collection of poetry, a wealth of knowledge on every topic imaginable.

In the basement of the Education building, though, was a little library that smelled of photocopiers, with linoleum floors and fluorescent lights. There was where I found recordings of Shel Silverstein reading his poetry in his most expressive voice, squeaky highs and rumbling lows, the vocal equivalent of his squiggly illustrations.

I read a lot of the books my mom read for her lit classes, and I remember many of them vividly, have re-read many of them numerous times. But cracking open one of the collection of Shel Silverstein hardcovers is stepping into a time machine, my mom doing her homework, the sound of typing at rented word processors, the smell of books, laminating machines, and photocopiers, and the sound of that singular voice reading poetry that whispered whimsy into my ear.

Here’s a teeny video of some guy reciting this poem. A little obscure, but funny, nonetheless:


~ by Trillian on 09/17/2010.

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