Sunday Poetry: Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein

Where the Sidewalk Ends

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.

- by Shel Silverstein
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Shel Silverstein died nearly a decade ago, but his poetry is fresh and immediate. For many, he is the first poet they fall in love with, and he serves brilliantly as a “gateway drug” to lead from giggly silly childish poems to bawdy poems to thought-provoking meditations. He even wrote novelty song hits like Johnny Cash’s “Boy Named Sue” and Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s “The Cover of the Rolling Stone“.

A constant of Shel Silverstein’s career was that he was always looking for an audience that extended beyond drowsy graduate programs and self-important academics. His early work appeared in Pacific Stars and Stripes where it reached countless servicemen and women. His later work appeared in Playboy magazine, and books that reigned at the top of the bestseller charts.

The Giving Tree” and “The Missing Piece” are perfect gifts for thoughtful children in the fourth grade or so, and “Different Dances” is a shocking book to share with someone of college age who thinks Shel Silverstein is kid’s stuff.

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