The Silly and Captivating Poems of Jack Prelutsky, and Their Meaning

Cover image of Silly Poems by Jack Prelutsky

Here’s something that many poets would confess; while it is easy to write poems with complicated rhyme patterns and deep meaning, writing poetry for children is often a challenging thing. The poems of Jack Prelutsky can be considered silly, but they are captivating for sure. 

Prelutsky wrote for children. His poems are simple, creative, and fun to read with a deep message. Sometimes it is very difficult to write something very simple, and yet so complicated in what they mean. 

So we decided to collect seven of his silliest, weirdest, and most captivating poems of Jack Prelutsky along with their meaning. To make it more fun, we try to find the deeper, subtle meaning of these poems.

The Bogeyman 

In the desolate depths of a perilous place
the bogeyman lurks, with a snarl on his face.
Never dare, never dare to approach his dark lair
for he's waiting . . . just waiting . . . to get you.

He skulks in the shadows, relentless and wild
in his search for a tender, delectable child.
With his steely sharp claws and his slavering jaws
oh he's waiting . . . just waiting . . . to get you.

Many have entered his dreary domain
but not even one has been heard from again.
They no doubt made a feast for the butchering beast
and he's waiting . . . just waiting . . . to get you.

In that sulphurous, sunless and sinister place
he'll crumple your bones in his bogey embrace.
Never never go near if you hold your life dear,
for oh! . . . what he'll do . . . when he gets you!

Meaning of “The Bogeyman”

“The Bogeyman” is Prelutsky’s most famous and well-read poem. While he was a children’s poet, this poem stands out in particular for the horrifying elements used, something you’d find in a 80s slash-and-thrash movie. 

The use of words such as “Sulphurous”, “Butchering”, “sinister”, etc make this poem very graphic. The intention of the poem is to strike fear in the child’s mind. But it is strong and graphic enough to bring the same effect to an adult. 

Suzanna Socked Me Sunday

Suzanna socked me Sunday,
she socked me Monday, too,
she also socked me Tuesday,
I was turning black and blue.

She socked me double Wednesday,
and Thursday even more,
but when she socked me Friday,
she began to get me sore.

“Enough’s enough,” I yelled at her,
“I hate it when you hit me!”
“Well, then I won’t” Suzanna said—
that Saturday, she bit me.

Meaning of “Suzanna Socked me Sunday”

A very funny poem that has a great twist at the end, “Suzanna Socked me Sunday” uses alliteration and rhyme to bring out the poetic elements in this tiny tale. Suzanna was hitting the speaker on every day of the week, starting Sunday. 

While the kid was bearing all the from Sunday to Thursday, he could not take it anymore on Friday. So he yelled at her and asked her not to hit him anymore. Suzanna agreed, and then bit him on Saturday. Poor guy. 

I Met a Dragon Face to Face

I met a dragon face to face
the year when I was ten,
I took a trip to outer space,
I braved a pirate's den,
I wrestled with a wicked troll,
and fought a great white shark,
I trailed a rabbit down a hole,
I hunted for a snark.

I stowed aboard a submarine,
I opened magic doors,
I traveled in a time machine,
and searched for dinosaurs,
I climbed atop a giant's head,
I found a pot of gold,
I did all this in books I read
when I was ten years old.

Meaning of “I Met a Dragon Face to Face”

“I Met a Dragon Face to Face” is a poem about the strong, vivid, and unbound imagination of a child. How a child can wander off to places beyond reality, from fighting a dragon to being aboard a pirate ship and traveling in a time machine. 

This poem is about how a child of 10 years of age can reach wild places by just reading a book. A brilliant take on the power of imagination, and a lesson that one should always admire this ability, never let it dull down.

The Visitor

it came today to visit
and moved into the house
it was smaller than an elephant
but larger than a mouse

first it slapped my sister
then it kicked my dad
then it pushed my mother
oh! that really made me mad

it went and tickled rover
and terrified the cat
it sliced apart my necktie
and rudely crushed my hat

it smeared my head with honey
and filled the tub with rocks
and when i yelled in anger
it stole my shoes and socks

that's just the way it happened
it happened all today
before it bowed politely
and softly went away

Meaning of “The Visitor”

Perhaps the most confusing poem Prelutsky has written, “The Visitor” talks about a creature unknown that visits the house of the speaker. Readers have no idea what or who this creature is. All we know is what this creature does. 

There could be different interpretations of this poem. Either the poet is talking about emotions, or it is a child’s wild imaginations. We know that the creature is smaller than an elephant and larger than a mouse, which does not narrow down the options very well. 

It came into the house, “slapped” the sister, “kicked” the dad, and “pushed” the mother. All these things are something humans can do, so perhaps it was a person, a friend of the speaker. It could be a mischievous kid. 

But what if it’s an emotion? What if it is anger that the speaker is talking about. Perhaps the anger came to visit the speaker and made him do all this? Anger can be large or small, and they can make you do all these terrible things. 

But we know that at the end, it bowed politely and softly went away. Perhaps the speaker learnt to control his anger and then became calm? Out of all the poems, this poem can have a deep, and even sinister meaning. 

As Soon As Fred Gets Out of Bed

As soon as Fred gets out of bed,
his underwear goes on his head.
His mother laughs, "Don't put it there,
a head's no place for underwear!"
But near his ears, above his brains,
is where Fred's underwear remains.

At night when Fred goes back to bed,
he deftly plucks it off his head.
His mother switches off the light
and softly croons, "Good night! Good night!"
And then, for reasons no one knows,
Fred's underwear goes on his toes.

Meaning of “As Soon As Fred Gets Out of Bed”

A silly poem about the tomfoolery of Fred who can’t seem to figure out how to wear an underwear. This poem is purely for laughs and the fun Fred seems to have by playing around with his underwear. 

He wears it on his head in the morning, and puts it on his toe at night. We know one thing for sure; Fred’s mother loves him a lot, and she adores all the silly things Fred does.

Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face

Be glad your nose is on your face,
not pasted on some other place,
for if it were where it is not,
you might dislike your nose a lot.

Imagine if your precious nose
were sandwiched in between your toes,
that clearly would not be a treat,
for you'd be forced to smell your feet.

Your nose would be a source of dread
were it attached atop your head,
it soon would drive you to despair,
forever tickled by your hair.

Within your ear, your nose would be
an absolute catastrophe,
for when you were obliged to sneeze,
your brain would rattle from the breeze.

Your nose, instead, through thick and thin,
remains between your eyes and chin,
not pasted on some other place--
be glad your nose is on your face!

Meaning of “Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face”

Another silly yet a captivating poem about what would happen if your nose was not in the place where it is? Prelutsky imagines all the different scenarios where the nose is not on your face, but someplace else. 

If it was between your toes, you’d have to smell your feet all day long, or perhaps if it was on your head, your nose would be constantly tickled by your hair. This poem teaches kids a great lesson of being happy with how they are given things, and why they should love themselves. 

Deep in Our Refrigerator

Deep in our refrigerator,
there's a special place
for food that's been around awhile . . .
we keep it, just in case.
“It's probably too old to eat,”
my mother likes to say.
“But I don't think it's old enough
for me to throw away.”

It stays there for a month or more
to ripen in the cold,
and soon we notice fuzzy clumps
of multicolored mold.
The clumps are larger every day,
we notice this as well,
but mostly what we notice
is a certain special smell.

When finally it all becomes
a nasty mass of slime,
my mother takes it out, and says,
“Apparently, it's time.”
She dumps it in the garbage can,
though not without regret,
then fills the space with other food
that's not so ancient yet

Meaning of “Deep in Our Refrigerator”

We’ve all had this moment when we say our mothers keep some food in the fridge, and even though it was already not fit to eat, she would refuse to throw it away. It is the exact same thing the poet is talking about the deep freezer. 

Perhaps there is some old meat that the mother won’t throw away because it is not old or spoiled enough, and she can’t eat it because it is not fresh yet. So when the food goes completely rancid with molds around it, that’s when the mother agrees to throw it. 

But the cycle continues as she keeps some old food in the place, just waiting for molds to grow and smell to spread. 

Those were some of our favorite Jack Prelutsky poems that are simple, fun, and fascinating at the same time. Tell us which one is your favorite and why? Don’t forget to keep reading and enjoying poetry. Here are some poems that would interest you:

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