Friday, January 30, 2009

Two Poems: One by Updike, One By Silverstein

Meager Commentary by L. Trodson

When I was in grammar school we had a textbook that probably contained the first introduction I ever had to John Updike.

When I was thinking of it last night, I couldn’t remember the name of the poem, in fact I could only remember one line of it. So I googled “updike super phosphate fed foods feed me” and up popped this, which was written in 1954. I first read it sometime before 1970:


I drive my car to supermarket,
The way I take is superhigh,
A superlot is where I park it,
And Super Suds are what I buy.

Supersalesman sell me tonic--
Super Tone-O, for Relief,
The planes I ride are supersonic,
In trains, I like the Super Chief.

Supercilious men and women
Call me superficial -- me!
Who so superbly learned to swim in

Superphosphate-fed foods feed me;
Superservice keeps me new.
Who would dare to supersede me,

And then I vaguely remembered another poem that was in the same textbook, so I typed in the lines “put some mustard in your shoe/drive a nail in your foot” and got this (I didn’t remember it right):

Nothing To Do
by Shel Silverstein

Nothing to do?
Nothing to do?
Put some mustard in your shoe,
Fill your pockets full of soot,
Drive a nail into your foot,
Put some sugar in your hair,
Place your toys upon the stair,
Smear some jelly on the latch,
Eat some mud and strike a match,
Draw a picture on the wall,
Roll some marbles down the hall,
Pour some ink in daddy's cap --
Now go upstairs and take a nap.

My reading of and about Updike during the past few days stirred the old memory, so that was why I looked them up. I was glad to read them again. They kind of go together, these two.

Updike’s poem is witty and fun. And Silverstein’s is, well, it’s full of what I would call just good old fashioned advice.