Dirty Face

Shel Silverstein 1930 (Chicago) – 1999

Where did you get such a dirty face,
My darling dirty-faced child?
I got it from crawling along in the dirt
And biting two buttons off Jeremy’s shirt.
I got it from chewing the roots of a rose
And digging for clams in the yard with my nose.
I got it from peeking into a dark cave
And painting myself like a Navajo brave.
I got it from playing with coal in the bin
And signing my name in cement with my chin.
I got it from rolling around on the rug
And giving the horrible dog a big hug.
I got it from finding a lost silver mine
And eating sweet blackberries right off the vine.
I got it from ice cream and wrestling and tears
And from having more fun than you’ve had in years.

About this poem

‘Dirty Face’ by Shel Silverstein is a sixteen line poem that is divided up into one couplet and one set of fourteen lines. The rhyme scheme is very consistent throughout. It follows a pattern of AB CCDDEEFF and so on, until the conclusion. The first two lines are different than the following fourteen due to the fact that they come from a different speaker. This person is a parent and they are addressing a child about their dirty face. The child’s response is the bulk of the poem. It is interesting to note that Silverstein chose to leave the parent’s lines unrhymed but give the child’s words such a consistent pattern. 

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Submitted by davidb on February 06, 2022

Modified by davidb on February 22, 2023

43 sec read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 682
Words 146
Stanzas 2
Stanza Lengths 2, 14

Shel Silverstein

Sheldon Allan Silverstein was an American writer, poet, cartoonist, singer-songwriter, musician, and playwright. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Silverstein briefly attended university before being drafted into the United States Army. more…

All Shel Silverstein poems | Shel Silverstein Books

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1 Comment
  • AIDA
    Wow! This poem is full of adventure and excitement! The way the author describes the dirty face is so creative and unique, and it really captures the imaginative spirit of a child. I love how the poem takes us on a journey through all of the different ways the child got their dirty face, from crawling in the dirt to painting themselves like a Navajo brave. It's clear that the child is full of curiosity and joy, and this poem is a wonderful celebration of that. The ending is especially powerful, with the child reminding us that sometimes the best things in life come from just having fun and letting loose. Overall, this poem is a delightful and uplifting read that brings a smile to my face. 
    LikeReply1 year ago


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"Dirty Face" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 28 May 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/119223/dirty-face>.

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