Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

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Two times Grammy-winning and once Oscar nominated American poet Shel Silverstein has earned himself a cult status when it comes to children’s poetry. However, it is not only the children who dearly love Uncle Shel but adults too. Here, he invites everyone to come to a place away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

BY SHEL SILVERSTEIN

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

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Analysis of “Where the sidewalk ends”

Shel Silverstein’s poem “Where the sidewalk ends” shares its name with the book it was published in, in the year 1974. Although Silverstein mostly writes for children, however, just like all of his other poems, this one too carries a lot of meaning for adults. The speaker tells us about an imaginary la-la land which is a relief from the hubbub of the regular world. In the regular world, the “smoke blows black” and the “dark street winds and bends”. However, in the place “where the sidewalk ends”, the “grass grows soft and white”, the wind is cool and “pepperminty”. To reach there we will follow the children and “walk with a walk that is measured and slow”.

Sidewalks are something that we associate with the city – when the sidewalk ends, the chaotic city turns away and we encounter raw nature. However, the speaker is beckoning our wild imaginations by luring us with baits such as the cool “peppermint wind” where the “moon-bird rests”. He mentions that the “grass grows soft and white” – the color white advocates peace and purity unlike the scratchy green grass of the city.

The people in the cities work tirelessly, with great effort and energy while failure is looming over them. The city-people are like the “asphalt flowers”; they have to strive to survive. The speaker is asking the readers to come with him to a stress-free, childlike place where everyone can reunite with nature. Earlier, the speaker had used the sensory appeal of sight, smell and touch to tempt us and yet once again, he is trying to hit us with a technicolor experience when he tells us that, “We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow”. He wants us to live the moment – the fresh air, the crunch of the grass.

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