Summary and Analysis of Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

INTRODUCTION TO SHEL SILVERSTEIN-

Born on 25 September in the year 1930, in Chicago, this American poet was an all rounder, he was not only a brilliant poet but also a  Grammy winning songwriter, a playwright and a cartoonist. His major works are mostly loved and enjoyed by young readers. The highlights of his works are his bold and naked humor, the simplicity of thought, the complicated vastness of his imagination and downright silliness sometimes.

INTRODUCTION TO WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS-

“”Where the sidewalk ends” is a beautiful poem that describes a delightful place shown in contrast to the smoke filled industrial cities.

SETTING OF WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS-

The poem is set in two opposite places. The first setting is that of the place where the sidewalk ends, this place is beautiful beyond imagination and blessed with the nature’s glory. The second place is the one which contrasts it, presumably a city filled with smoke, noise and industrial pollution.

POETIC DEVICES IN WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS-

ALLITERATION-
“We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow”
“And watch where the chalk-white arrows go”
“Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black”
REPITITION-
“And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight”
“There is a place where the sidewalk ends…The place where the sidewalk ends”

RHYME SCHEME OF WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS-

“There is a place where the sidewalk ends  (A)
And before the street begins,  (A)
And there the grass grows soft and white,  (B)
And there the sun burns crimson bright,  (C)
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight  (C)
To cool in the peppermint wind.”  (D)
“Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black   (A)
And the dark street winds and bends.  (B)
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow   (C)
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,   (C)
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go  (D)
To the place where the sidewalk ends.”  (B)
“Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,  (A)
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,  (A)
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know   (B)
The place where the sidewalk ends.”   (C)

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SUMMARY OF WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS-

The speaker starts by describing the place where the sidewalk ends. This place is located at the end of the sidewalk and before the beginning of the streets. The poet then uses vivid imagery to highlight the fantasy element of this place. The speaker tells that this beautiful place is filled with soft-white grass, the crimson beams of the bright sun fall here and the moon birds rest in this place, cooling themselves in the peppermint wind. In the second stanza, the poet comes back from his imagination to the real world of polluted cities and streets. He pleads to leave the smoke filled dark streets, the pits and asphalts growing wild flowers and carefully follow the chalk white arrows made on the concrete by innocent children to enter the place where the sidewalk ends. In the last stanza, the poet encourages the people to walk measurably and slowly, follow the marks made by innocent children to the beautiful place for only the children know the place where the sidewalk ends.  

CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS-

This poem can be understood differently, under various perspectives. On the outside, there is an obvious comparison of two places, one filled with the nature, beauty and health, the areas filled with greenery, flora and fauna. The other place is that of the human establishment, the cities filled with all kinds of pollution, industrious areas with people surviving in the toxic environment. By the end of the second stanza, the plead of the poet to leave the smoke filled streets turns into a request that seems to be much more than the physical abandonce of the cities. The mention of the innocent children and their ability to guide us towards the beautiful world of nature has more to do with the notions of spirituality and soulfulness than just the physical aspect of life. The poet wants the readers to be free of greed and selfishness, to accept innocence, love and peace for a healthy, happy life.

TONE OF WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS-

The tone of the poem is calm for the most part, the tone of the  second stanza describing the horrifying cities is quite yet strong. There is an undertone of soothness that runs through out the poem which is developed by the poet’s use of vivid and beautiful imagery.

CONCLUSION-

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“Where the sidewalk ends” by Shel Silverstein is an amazing composition that encourages the readers to not only take care of the environment surrounding them but also to abandon the darkness within for the acceptance of a happy, healthy and a  wonderful life.
Contributor: Radhika Goel