The Meaning of "Where the Sidewalk Ends" – A Poem Written by Shel Silverstein

"Where the Sidewalk ends" is a children poem written by Shel Silverstein in 1974. It’s equally a collection of poems. Silverstein was actually a songwriter, an author and a children’s poet. When the poem was first published in 1974, it became well known as a classic poem for kids in several nations. It was translated into over 20 languages. In several nations today, the poem is used in classrooms as part of introduction to children poetry.

The Structure
The poem is written in 3 stanzas with definite rhyme scheme. The poet wrote the poem with dactylic dimeter. He used repetition, imagery, metaphors and other poetic devices in conveying his message. The tone in the poem is quite positive and inspiring.

The Meaning
Several interpretations and analysis have been made concerning the poem. However, a general conclusion has already been drawn on the actual meaning of the poem. Silverstein wrote the poem for children but many of the ideas expressed in the poem are actually meant for adults. For instance, he made allusions about the fact that adults live in a dark world full of depression while children live in a joyful and lively world. He maintains that adults need to take a step back and use the mindset of children in order to locate joy and happiness just as the kids have. The poet started the poem by pinpointing the actual place where the sidewalk ends. For him, the place can only be reached through imagination. Hence, it’s all about the function of the human mind and how people view the universe. Finding the place where the sidewalks ends is not actually finding a real place. It’s all about achieving a good state of mind. Silverstein describes the adult world in second stanza as a far cry from the actual place where the sidewalks ends. For him, the smoke blows black and the dark streets bend in the adult place.

In the third stanza, the poet encourages adult to open up their minds in locating the true place where the sidewalks ends. He opines that only children actually know the place. He is simply referring to the joyful and stress-free world of children. The poet encourages adult to behave like children so that can get to the place where the sidewalk ends.
In all, the "Where the Sidewalk Ends" can be interpreted as a place of joy and peace. It’s not actually a real physical place. It’s simply having a mindset of a child. When adult adopts such a mindset, they are sure to find joy and true peace. Adults have to abandon their tainted mindset that is full of distress and focus on achieving the mindset of kids that is full of joy.