Poetry response #2

Where the Sidewalk Ends

by: Shel Silverstein
from the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (1974)

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.

Date of reading: October 23rd

Source: http://faculty.weber.edu/chansen/humanweb/projects/MeghanUng/wherethesidewalkends.htm

Main theme: the end (distance-wise) of the world, a fairytale like scene

My response: I think this poem is playing with the child’s imagination. In the second and third verses it talks of chalk white arrows that children mark on the ground to show the place where the sidewalk ends. That place would have soft white grass and moonbirds, and peppermint wind – this sounds like a children’s imagination of a perfect world. The poem sounds like a search for something better, leaving the asphalt roads and pit holes and dark streets, and going to find something better, that although is imaginary, cannto be proven that doesn’t exist yet. Shel Silverstein uses children as the guides to the end of the sidewalk because they still have very curious and adventurous imaginations and aren’t ridden with pessimistic beliefs like “there is no better place, this is it” – they are adventurous and want to find more. I think the author is saying that if we all took on such playful imaginations (because the poem is written in a carefree, almost childish style), we too could go join the children’s wonderful world and find places full of wonders. Or maybe the author is just trying to say that we should use our imaginations more and then the world we live in will simply feel a happier place for us to be in.

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One thought on “Poetry response #2

  1. Wow! That’s a really interesting interpretation. I don’t think that I could have come up with something like that. I reached for something simpler: for me, going to “the place where the sidewalk ends” is evocative of liberation, similar to perhaps taking off the training wheels of one’s bicycle for the first time. The sidewalk is meant to keep people safe, but it’s also sort of a limitation, you know?

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