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By Stefan Kanfer

The Voodoo That They Did So Well: The Wizards Who Invented the New York Stage.

Soundings

Stefan Kanfer
The Use of Dr. Seuss
The creator of The Cat in the Hat turns 100.
Spring 2004

Born Theodor Geisel in nineteen-ought-four,
He learned to draw early and write—and much more.
Then to Dartmouth and Oxford for great mental calories,
And then home to some jobs that would grant modest salaries
(While searching for something rewarding and notable
A role that would make him both artist and quotable).
He cartooned for magazines, wrote funny articles,
Yet somehow he seemed to create in mere particles—
Until the great day when he essayed a book
(Which some forty-three publishers quickly forsook).
The name of the project was puzzling but neat:
And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
From that point he seemed to turn into a fountain:
He wrote, and he drew, and created a mountain
Of volumes that pleased both the parents and progeny
(No hints of misanthropy or of misogyny).
So what if his drawings suggested fried eggs?
His hypnotic rhythms and subjects had legs;
They got into the language and even a cursory
Look at most homes found a Seuss in the nursery.
His output of fifty-four books had no runts,
From The Cat in the Hat to You’re Only Old Once!
He stayed blithe and humorous, brilliant and fertile,
From Horton to Grinch and to Yertle the Turtle.
A play and a movie were based on his works,
Though they seemed to be aimed for a houseful of jerks.
They bombed, as they should have, and fanswho were burned
To the slim little volumes have gladly returned.
Raise a glass to Geisel, and his nom de plume Seuss:
We salute all the talent he put to good use.
A hundred years after his birth we salute
All he did for the nation, its elders and yout’.
May his characters always elicit a smile,
May his themes and poetry stay right in style,
May he be what he always has been, bright and bold,
May he do what we cannot, and never grow old.

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