Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Shel Silverstein's poem The Little Boy and the Old Man


  1. Emily says:

    I think that this poem is really sad, but although sad, it is very true

  2. Christopher Reynolds says:

    This is a poem that touches the hearts of everyone who reads it. It is the perfect example of children and the elderly and how similar they really are. It also serves as a note to everyone in between. Don’t underestimate or overlook the young or old. The old have much to say and wise words to live by. The young need to be nurtured and cared for. The old hold the key to our past and the young hold the key to our future. If we do not listen to the old how can we teach our children? There is an infinite amount of knowledge that is lost through death and if we do not preserve that knowledge, the generations to come will be destined to rediscover it forcing society to repeat itself in an attempt to move forward.
    This may seem like an extreme analysis of a children’s poem but there is so much more to it than meets the eye. This poem has the power to change lives with a separate message for each generation that reads it. A mother reads this to her child. The child hears it and realizes that old people are more than wrinkles and funny smells; the old are a lot like children and this brings the child closer to his grandparents. The mother reads this to her child and comes to understand that her parents have much to teach her as well as her little boy, therefore strengthening the relationship between the mother and her parents. The grandparents, with a closer relationship to their daughter and grandson, read the poem wile spending time with the small boy and discover how much they are needed, giving the grandparents purpose and joy in their final years.

  3. Allie says:

    This poem is so sad. It shows us how even the youngest of kids have so many things in common with the older generations. It makes you think about how you treat your grandparents and how you sometimes ignore them. This poem puts things into perspective for me.

  4. Kalie says:

    i think that this poem expresses the true feelings about children and older adults. as we get older we seem to think that the things that are important aren’t important anymore. this poem expresses a circle of understanding and achknowledgement. everyone should feel loved from the young to the old.

  5. Harry Park says:

    I dont know why, but when I read that poem, I just feeled touched. It shows that no matter how many years actually go by some things will and never will change. It shows that two generations are bridged through the simple facts of togetherness in things that you cannot understand but yet you feel.

  6. nicholas says:

    It’s a great poem!
    I think it’s true about pdrents not listening to kids!!

  7. Amanda says:

    I think this poem is really cute! It is also very intersting.

  8. Avalon says:

    wow! that is soooo sad! every time i read this poem i get misty-eyed! it reminds me of my grandfather! boo hoo!

  9. katie says:

    I think this poem is beautiful, and does show a circle of life and understanding between the very young and the very old. But I think everyone, whether they are a child, an adult, middle-aged, a teenager, retired, a twentysomething, etc. has felt ignored, embarrassed, or set aside. And it is always a wonderful thing when somebody can make you feel that they perfectly understand how you are feeling.

  10. Johnny Cresong says:

    it was so sad i cryed forever so please feel sympathy

  11. raymonmd robarge says:

    lol……… sounds like my parents unclues cousion everthing!!!!……… shigh its all so true

  12. Sanlie Auyeung says:

    why do you write about such sadness in the world? it’s so depressing!!! it was really touching though…. i don’t know what it’s like to have grandparents because they died from neglectance from my parents….

  13. Virginia Taylor says:

    Boys flying kites, pull in their white-winged birds,
    But you can’t do that, when you are flying words.
    “Careful with fire,” is good advice, we know;
    “Careful with words,” is ten times doubly so.
    Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead;
    But God himself can’t kill them when they’re said.

    WILL CARLETON (1845-1912)
    From The First Settler’s Song.

  14. Miss Thang says:

    It is a beautiful poem. I almost cried after the last two lines. Reminded me of my grandparents.

  15. Jen says:

    This is an enlightenment about the circle of life. He has brought together the beginning of the circle and the end of the circle in the two characters. I think that he wants us to feel compassion for them both, but more than that, I also think he wants us to take a good long look at what we in our society take for granted. The amazing thing about this is, that no matter in what stage of life we find ourselves right now, at some point most of us have or will have the opportunity to relate to both of these beloved people in the poem personally.

  16. Alicia says:

    I just love this poem. I think it’s great about grown-ups not paying attention to their children! It’s the truth!

  17. Tiani says:

    good lord this was such a touching poem. It was sad yes but the old man and the boy seemed as though the man was the boy when he was younger and the boy will grow up to be the man.

  18. catherine says:

    I really like this poem. It’s one of my many favorites by Shel Silverstein.

  19. Karin Ann Laderoute says:

    this touched my heart. Thanks to he who wrote it!

  20. Benjamin says:

    A beautiful poem. Sad yet heart-warming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Shel Silverstein better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.