Where The Sidewalk Ends Poem By Sheldon Allan Silverstein Summary, Notes And Line By Line Analysis In English


The three-stanza poem “Where the Sidewalk Ends” contrasts the brutal and demanding adult world with a more childish attitude that can offer a breather from the obligations and constraints of being an adult.  Through the use of strong and lovely imagery, the poet creates an atmosphere of calmness that permeates the entire poem.

About The Poet

American author, poet, cartoonist, composer, and playwright Sheldon Allan Silverstein also created cartoons. Silverstein, who was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, briefly studied at a university before getting enlisted in the American Army. His bold and frank sense of humour, clarity of thought, complex range of imagination, and even outright silliness are the highlights of his writings.

Stanza 1

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.

When a sidewalk ends, the busy city pulls away from us and we are surrounded with untamed nature. However, by using enticing lines like the cold “peppermint wind” where the “moon-bird rests,” the speaker is tempting readers into bizarre imaginations. He says that the “grass grows soft and white”; in contrast to the city’s scruffy green grass, the colour white stands for serenity and purity.

Since “white” is not a typical hue for “grass,” Silverstein is letting the reader know that this location is not a real place and also adding another childlike touch to the tale by using the mind in this way. Both of these support the idea that there is a strong yearning to return as an adult to a simpler, happier childhood.

Stanza 2

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.

While failure looms above them, people in cities toil away with enormous effort and energy. That “street” is near the beginning in the first verse, which denotes novelty and possibilities; but, in the second stanza, it “winds and bends,” which denotes uncertainty and ambiguity. The harsher character of this “street” is enhanced by reference to “pits,”.

As with “asphalt flowers,” city dwellers must fight to stay afloat. The speaker invites the audience to accompany him to a stress-free, innocent spot where everyone may reconnect with nature. In essence, this “place” represents something more serious, such as an adult existence filled with busy details and obligations, rather than a cheerful, young atmosphere.

Stanza 3

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.

Essentially, this last line symbolizes the conclusion of the entire poem because the poet starts it by agreeing to his own request to leave the adult environment and “walk with a walk that is measured and slow.” This could imply that the reader responded by saying they would stand with the poet, and Silverstein is now expressing acceptance to that agreement.