Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Shel Silverstein's poem Whatif


  1. anthony says:

    in school we are choosing a poet and we choose shel silverstein beaceuse we like how he writes by rhyming.:)

  2. ashley says:

    in school we made our own what if poem we gave shel sivlerstein cratit for making up the poem

  3. Isaak says:

    I think it’s a great poem to read and that all people should worrie about things like that.=) The reason I’m reading all of the Shel Silverstien book/poems is because in grade 5 and 6 we need to write poetry and poetry anologys for our teachers and the school board!
    It’s pretty annoying like that though…

  4. christain says:

    i love this poem cuz when i was little i always thought of whaat if
    i think that this is such a great poem for the world

  5. Al says:

    Nothing like reading a good Shel Silverstein poem to cheer you up after reading edgar allen Poe all day….

  6. Amanda says:

    I am requied to do a poerty analaysis for shel silverstein and is looking for 1 that is already been done.. got any ideas

  7. shorty says:

    it makes me feel like a kid again

  8. Mellisa says:

    this poem has a typing mistake….it’s taller..not talle….fix it please….thank you…

  9. Chelsea says:

    I think that this poem is showing us that if we only think of what could have happened we won’t see what did happen. We have to open our eyes and see what is not what if.

  10. stephanie says:

    i love this poem

  11. jennifer says:

    as the mother of a 16 year old girl and a 10 year old boy, as well as the stepmother of a 9 year old boy, it nearly brings me to tears. my husband recently lost his job and i am an unemployed nursing student. our worries suddenly seem to pale in comparison to those of our children brought to light by this work of art from an author both me & my children adore.

  12. Jules says:

    this poem can be viewed at first glance as dark and gloomy. however, this poem is about a child during the holocaust!

  13. Puree says:

    two things, first, shutup neriva,
    second this poem is very realistic. Tha watifs always have their parties right in your ear where you can sit i denile or acception of the possibilities.

  14. alyssa says:

    i really liked the poem, it reminds me of things i think about every day

  15. dan says:

    i liked it

  16. neriva says:

    hey, this is the most stupid poem that a man can do, but it’s all about reality,,,, you know, people are stupid!? so why we pretend to be smart, just be stupid and enjoy our life!?

  17. Rachel says:

    I am like a super freak and think about all this stuff every single night, even days sometimes. I like this poem, and I love Shel’s petry books also. I have a few. And read a lot. It’s a great poem. I like thed how the divorce thing and war didn’t rhyme also, they are serious (I agree from what the other people said.) And since my parents are getting a divorce that is serious to me.

  18. Taylor says:

    seriously this poem sums is up!!! this is what i go thru like every nite when im fallin asleep! its freaking amazing!

  19. Deanna says:

    it is a wondeerful poem

  20. Sara says:

    This poem is like true… happens to me every night…and i like how some parts of the poem are silly and get serious i also like how war and divorced are stuck out and dont ryme i think the reson for this is because those are 2 serious things kids think of…i think this poem is great and i sent it to everyone i could think of i recomend this poem for anyone!!!

  21. Xavier says:

    Wow, I do the same exact thing at night. And I thought I was the only one who did that. I hate those stupid whatifs. Ecspecially on plane rides. Thank you for writing this.

  22. Afzal says:

    Wow! This is exactly what happens to me when I hit the bed! I, being the poetically-challenged person I am, thank you, Shel Silverstein, for writing something which I can really relate to. 🙂

  23. Shannon says:

    I love all of Shel Silverstein’s poems. They all have such a unique twist to them, I am doing a report on him for one of my classes…I love learning even MORE about him! Anyway, the poem is great and it has a great subject and purpose.

  24. Khadija Sharawy says:

    I suggest that this poem is very nice but I really think if you want to make your poem rhyme that’s no problem but it has to make sense most of it doesn’t and the best way to make your poem have sense don’t letit rhyme !

  25. kathleen says:

    i like all of shel’s poems a like but seeing as i am 13 i like this poem the best because it explains most of the other kids but not me

  26. Julia says:

    I love this poem! It is my all time new favorite poem!! It is so cute!!

  27. Amanda says:

    i totally love this poem because no matter what there will always be the “what ifs” no matter where you are school, home, work, or just with your friends my strategy is to take one day at a time one activity at a time and dont pay attention to what people have to say or if they dont like you who cares someone else will.

  28. Dana says:

    this poem is gnarley! Whatif i fail the 9th grade, whatif my boyfriend dumps me? crzy

  29. ELIZABETH says:


  30. AILEN BATUCAN says:


  31. Martin Siegel says:

    The greatest fears of a child in school
    You do not forget these things easily
    Lucky the one who is able to pack them in a witty poem.


  32. Anne says:

    This is a really great poem. Our life is also full many whatifs and if we could just get the answers of our whatifs then i think we would come across the real beauty of this world n our own life n this will also help us in overcoming our desires.Aristotle once quoted


  33. katie says:

    I think the one of the strongest points of this poem is that everyone can relate to it. I have gotten crazy with what-ifs, they are very persistent, and they have ruined many a night, day, and even longer periods for me. But their little song and dance is nonsense. We could all what-if ourselves into the grave. Somebody on here said her parents taught her to focus on what IS instead of what IF. That is good advice, very smart parents.

  34. giovanni says:

    I like this poem i feel like means that if u do have alot of whatifs in your life dont worry about them until thy pop up. EX:Everything seems well and then the nighttime whatifs strike again. I chose this poem 4 a project of mine because it is that good!!!!!!!!

  35. dave says:

    well it`s all what if these days

    whatif, i never went to school
    it dont mean im dumb.

    whatif, i dont go to college
    does it mean i wont learn anything.

    the wold these days are all about whatif.

    whatif, i like this peom.

    dave, essex, united kingdom

  36. Debbie Dodson says:

    My daughter just read this poem at school, along with a poem that she had written. She lost this particular poem after the poem readings were done, she was very upset. She loved this poem, in sixth grade her life is full of Whatifs… how appropriate. I was glad to find it and plan to get the book for her.

  37. Peter says:

    The couplet about divorce and war seem very threatening and possible. The fears do not fit somehow – Is this a device to draw attention to them? or is the poet inviting personal revisions:

    Whatif I should end up poor?
    Whatif I were held by force?

    Interesting exercise? Why not try it?

  38. Chimney says:

    I have been studying poems in my English class. To tell the truth, most of the poems we have studied have been very depressing, dark, and gloomy. When asked to select a poem to read to the class, I wanted something upbeat. This poem was perfect! It showed that you can still worry and go through life but not be depressing about it. With the added humorous lines, the poem became fun. I was glad to have found it.

  39. Jordan says:

    I wonder if there’s any significance to the fact that nearly every couplet has a more rational fear on the first line, and then a more illogical fear on the second line – except for the “Whatif they start a war? Whatif my parents get divorced?” and the “Whatif I tear my pants? Whatif I never learn to dance?”

  40. Hailey says:

    I think that it’s really funny and cute , and that this is a relly great poem and I’ll recomened it to my friends.

  41. Nikki says:

    This poem is really cool! im doing poetry in English and this is one poem im going to present to my class! Whatifs go threw my head ALL the time!

  42. Sarah says:

    Your Poem was ok.I t is exactly what goes on in peoples mind when the daydream.I am going to memorize this poem and perform it in front of my language Arts class.

  43. james says:

    this poem was ok but others think it was poop.

  44. Zayed says:

    Everytime I read your poem I think of what would will happen the next day.The next day I sometimes I become worried if the things I dreamed of would come true.I like all your poems especially Messy Room.The Messy Room is my favorite poem you wrote.

  45. Leon100 says:

    This is one Stupid poem!!!

  46. Sau says:

    I think this poem is exactly what goes on in the majority of people’s minds. People will always worry about the whatif’s…it’s interesting a poem so simple and basic can be so powerful as far as sending a message.I enjoyed reading it that i am choosing to do my paper on it for my lit. class. read it yo, you’ll like it. and definately relate to it.

  47. Hnery Yu says:

    Whatifs…are they real or are they just mere fragments of imagination from the truth? The truth, heck the truth is that in life, you don’t whatif this or that, you actually live out your life. Don’t whatif this or that, actually do it!! =D

  48. mallika says:

    The first time I read this poem was when I was around 6 years old. It was the first Silverstein poem I ever read. I remember this poem really sticking in my mind because I had worried about every single one of the things that was mentioned in this poem (exempt the fish not biting lol). I’m now thirteen and although I still worry I have learned not to let the “whatif’s” get to me. My philosophy is do your best, but you can’t controll everything.

  49. Catty says:

    that sounds like what i think about all of the time, i alwayz wornder if anything bad will happen to me the next day. **JESUS ROX MY SOX**

  50. Jena says:

    i think this poem tells us exactly what life is like. some nights i sit in bed thinking “what if this and what if that?” well let me tell you that doesn’t help me figure out anything. you should live life for the what is’s and what are’s. not the what if’s 🙂

  51. Dr. Dave says:

    You can always look out at your life and say whatif. You have to look at what is going on now because the past can’t be changed.

  52. John says:

    IF you always think about the whatifs, then life will be so negative and you won’t worry about anything else. The whatifs don’t even matter, unless they actually happen.

  53. MIzzChievyus says:

    Well, I think that some of everyone picks thier brain apart with the what if’s and how comes of life. The way the author says when he stops thinking everythings okay is saying to me, that we will all drive ourselves crazy thinking what could maybe happen but if we take time and step back it’s not too much for us to handle. But there will always be the ones who will fret to be fretting

  54. Vivian Figueroa says:

    I think the poem is explaining everything the poet is going through to strive in life and I myself have thought about them too. All the time I’m telling myself whatif and the poet seems be another person that has these thoughts also. It makes me feel good to know that I’m not the only one who seeks to know these answers in my life as I’m growing up from being a teen to soon being an adult. I will probably still ask myself these questions no matter what age I am.

  55. Rafi says:

    Whatif this poem wasn’t actually talking about someone who is actually thinking these things. Whatif this is someones life and all of these things happen to him and for one second everything is perfect but then everything goes back to normal and something happens bad so it’s telling us that life is full of bad occurances you just have to deal with it

  56. Raif Box says:

    I’m not much of a poem reader, but this one made me laugh.

  57. Karin Laderoute says:

    I grew up hearing from my parents. Telling me to forget whatif and think whatis! so this really hit home for me.

  58. Spencer Maughan says:

    I think that life can be like that
    Anything can happen, but don’t let the whatifs get to you.

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