'Whatif' by Shel Silverstein

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay

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 talle?
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!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Whatif by Shel Silverstein: A Literary Analysis

Oh boy, where do I even start with this one? Whatif by Shel Silverstein is a classic poem that has been loved by generations of readers worldwide. It's a short, simple poem that packs a powerful punch with its thought-provoking message. In this literary analysis, we'll dive deep into the poem and explore its themes, symbols, and poetic devices.


Whatif is a poem about the power of imagination and the fear of the unknown. The poem starts with the speaker contemplating what would happen if his nose were to grow as long as a hose. He imagines all the ridiculous scenarios that would ensue, such as not being able to fit through doors, or accidentally knocking over buildings. But then the poem takes a darker turn when the speaker starts to imagine more serious consequences of his nose growing, such as being laughed at and ostracized by others.

The poem then goes on to explore other "whatif" scenarios, such as what if his head were to fall off, or what if nobody liked him. In each scenario, the speaker's imagination runs wild with the possible consequences, and the poem ends with the speaker realizing the power of his own thoughts and the need to control them.


One of the main themes in Whatif is the power of imagination. The speaker's imagination runs wild with all the possible scenarios that could happen if his nose were to grow or his head were to fall off. This theme is especially relevant for children, who often have vivid imaginations and can be prone to worrying about things that may never happen.

Another theme in the poem is the fear of the unknown. The speaker is afraid of what might happen if these "whatif" scenarios were to come true, and this fear causes him to imagine the worst possible outcomes. This theme is also relevant for children, who may be afraid of trying new things or going into unfamiliar situations.

Finally, the poem touches on the theme of self-acceptance. The speaker is afraid that others will laugh at him or not like him if his nose were to grow, and this fear drives his imagination. However, by the end of the poem, the speaker realizes that he needs to accept himself for who he is and not worry about what others might think.


One of the main symbols in the poem is the nose. The speaker imagines what would happen if his nose were to grow as long as a hose, and this symbolizes the fear of standing out or being different. The nose is also a phallic symbol, which could suggest a fear of growing up or becoming a man.

The head is another symbol in the poem, as the speaker imagines what would happen if his head were to fall off. This symbolizes the fear of losing control or losing one's identity. The head is also the seat of the imagination, which ties in with the theme of the power of imagination.

Finally, the people in the poem represent the outside world and the fear of being judged or rejected by others. The speaker imagines how others would react to his nose growing or his head falling off, and this symbolizes the fear of not fitting in or being accepted by society.

Poetic Devices

Shel Silverstein uses several poetic devices in Whatif to create a sense of rhythm and repetition. One device he uses is rhyme, with the poem following an ABAB rhyme scheme. This gives the poem a sing-song quality that is easy to remember and recite.

Another poetic device used in the poem is repetition, with the phrase "what if" repeated throughout. This repetition emphasizes the power of the imagination and gives the poem a sense of structure and unity.

Silverstein also uses alliteration in the poem, with phrases such as "nose as long as a hose" and "head falls off in the night." This creates a sense of rhythm and musicality, adding to the sing-song quality of the poem.

Finally, Silverstein uses imagery to bring the "whatif" scenarios to life. For example, he describes the speaker's nose knocking over buildings and his head rolling down the street. This vivid imagery helps the reader visualize the scenarios and adds to the humor and absurdity of the poem.


Whatif by Shel Silverstein is a timeless poem that explores the power of imagination, the fear of the unknown, and the need for self-acceptance. The poem's use of symbolism, poetic devices, and vivid imagery create a sense of rhythm and humor that make it a pleasure to read. Whether you're a child or an adult, the themes and messages in this poem are universal and will resonate with readers of all ages.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Whatif: A Masterpiece of Imagination and Creativity

Shel Silverstein, the renowned American poet, author, and illustrator, is known for his unique style of writing that appeals to both children and adults. His works are filled with humor, wit, and a touch of whimsy that captures the imagination of his readers. One of his most famous poems, "Poetry Whatif," is a perfect example of his creativity and imagination.

"Poetry Whatif" is a short poem that explores the power of imagination and the endless possibilities that it can create. The poem is written in a simple and straightforward style, with each stanza consisting of two lines that rhyme. However, the simplicity of the poem belies the depth of its meaning and the richness of its imagery.

The poem begins with the line, "Last night, while I lay thinking here," which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker is lying in bed, lost in thought, and begins to imagine all the things that could happen if he were to write a poem. He wonders what would happen if he wrote a poem about a unicorn, a dragon, or a hippopotamus. He imagines the possibilities of what could happen if he wrote a poem about a giant or a mermaid.

The poem is filled with fantastical images and creatures that are not bound by the laws of reality. The speaker imagines a world where anything is possible, where he can create anything he wants with his words. He wonders what would happen if he wrote a poem about a world without gravity, or a world where everyone is a superhero. He imagines a world where the sky is green and the grass is blue, where the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

The poem is a celebration of the power of imagination and the freedom that it brings. It encourages the reader to let go of their inhibitions and to embrace their creativity. It reminds us that we are not bound by the limitations of the world around us, and that we can create our own reality with our words and our imagination.

The poem also touches on the idea of the unknown and the fear that it can bring. The speaker wonders what would happen if he wrote a poem that nobody understood, or if he wrote a poem that was too strange or too weird. He acknowledges the fear of the unknown, but he also embraces it, knowing that it is a necessary part of the creative process.

The poem ends with the line, "But I don't think I'll write it down," which is a fitting conclusion to the poem. The speaker has explored the possibilities of his imagination, but he has also recognized the limitations of language and the written word. He knows that some things are better left unsaid, and that the true power of imagination lies in the unspoken thoughts and ideas that exist within us.

In conclusion, "Poetry Whatif" is a masterpiece of imagination and creativity. It celebrates the power of the human mind to create and to imagine, and it encourages us to embrace our own creativity and to let go of our inhibitions. It reminds us that the world is not bound by the limitations of reality, and that we can create our own reality with our words and our imagination. It is a poem that speaks to both children and adults, and it is a testament to the enduring power of Shel Silverstein's writing.

Editor Recommended Sites

Analysis and Explanation of famous writings: Editorial explanation of famous writings. Prose Summary Explanation and Meaning & Analysis Explanation
Continuous Delivery - CI CD tutorial GCP & CI/CD Development: Best Practice around CICD
NFT Cards: Crypt digital collectible cards
No IAP Apps: Apple and Google Play Apps that are high rated and have no IAP
Developer Flashcards: Learn programming languages and cloud certifications using flashcards

Recommended Similar Analysis

Youth and Calm by Matthew Arnold analysis
Shema by Primo Levi analysis
Sonnet 21 - Say over again, and yet once over again by Elizabeth Barrett Browning analysis
Reaper and the Flowers, The by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow analysis
Fear by Hart Crane analysis
To Nature by Samuel Taylor Coleridge analysis
The Song Of The Happy Shepherd by William Butler Yeats analysis
Lenore by Edgar Allan Poe analysis
Song Of Myself by Walt Whitman analysis
Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath analysis