Lester by Shel Silverstein

Lester was given a magic wish

By the goblin who lives in the banyan tree, 

And with his wish he wished for two more wishes—

So now instead of just one wish, he cleverly had three. 

And with each one of these

He simply wished for three more wishes, 

Which gave him three old wishes, plus nine new. 

And with each of these twelve

He slyly wished for three more wishes. 

Which added up to forty-six—or is it fifty-two? 

Well anyway, he used each wish

To wish for wishes ‘til he had

Five billion, seven million, eighteen thousand thirty-four. 

And then he spread them on the ground

And skipped and sang, and then sat down 

And wished for more. 

And more… And more… They multiplied

While other people smiled and cried

And loved and reached and touched and felt. 

Lester sat amid his wealth

Stacked mountain-high like stacks of gold. 

Sat and counted—and grew old. 

And then one Thursday night they found him

Dead—with his wishes piled around him. 

And they counted the lot and found that not

A single one was missing. 

All shiny and new—here, take a few

And think of Lester as you do. 

In a world of apples and kisses and shoes

He wasted his wishes on wishing. 


I liked this poem because it is a very simple story and leaves it open for how we want to show the wishes adding up. Although Lester is a greedy character, Silverstein writes this in such a whimsical way that we don’t take notice. Instead, we see a character who is having fun wishing for more wishes. 


One thought on “Lester by Shel Silverstein

  1. I like this short story because it has a twist that has a sad ending which makes the story stronger. The story has interesting flow when Lester gets his wishes done. The story has interesting establishments. It starts with positive vibe and towards negative ending with lesson. Usually the short story goes the other way around. The story certainly has struggle where the audience clearly sees Lester going crazy with his wishes and also the part where village people found him dead. Although the story is simple and straight, the visualization of the story has a lot of potential (again with the excerpt where Lester makes wishes come true)

    Thanks Michelle.

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