The Little Boy and the Old Man Poem Summary Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English Class 6th


This is a very short poem that is about striving as a child to grow up and even then, when you grow old you realize that at one time having been treated with respect and being able to do everything, and having a voice in society, you suddenly become so old, you no longer have everything you had when you were younger. The little boy and the old man can empathize with their respective situations. You should treat every individual with care and respect.

About the Poet

Sheldon Allan (Shel Silverstein) is a poet known for his ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humour, but he manages to convey a deep, profound meaning about human relationships through his poems. Not only is he a poet, but he is also a singer-songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author of children’s books. He styled himself as Uncle Shelby in his children’s books. Translated into 20 languages, his books have sold over 20 million copies.


In this poem, you can see the similarities in their habits, and they are isolated and ignored by adults because of work. The older child represents the past and what the future will be like. That’s what makes them different.


Said the little boy, ‘Sometimes I drop my spoon.’
Said the little 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.

The poem starts with the little boy saying that many a time he drops the spoon and the little old man says that it happens to him too. This indicates that both of them are so weak that the spoon falls from their hands. The boy then whispers to the old man’s ears and tells him that he also wets his pants to which the old man replies humorously that it happens to him too. Both the little boy and the old man have the same habits, both of them cry at times.

But the worst feeling for them is when the adults do not pay attention to them, the old man totally relates to the boy and sighs. The fact that both of them dropped their spoons, that they were annoying, and that their pants were wet and crying shows that they could not control their body and emotions. Thus, they have the same bad habits and are similar to themselves only in age difference.

When the boy said that the adults did not pay attention to him, the old man held his hand and went through the same thing as the boy because he too was neglected. The old man understood the little boy’s feelings and used his actions to convey the message that he was in the same boat as the boy. When there is no benefit, the old man can be seen as the future, leaving him alone because others, for example, his children, are busy contributing to the community that has forgotten about him.

The little boy can be seen in the past by others who have not yet learned much in life, for example, parents neglecting him has no contribution to society and parents need to act.