Where the Sidewalk Ends

Looking at the poetry of Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein is a poet, a childhood favorite of mine. Often I would check out his books from the school library, Falling Up, A Light in the Attic, The Giving Tree. I never owned one of his books as a child. I began my collection as an adult and picked up his, “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

I am overflowed with nostalgic giddy reading these poems. 

Early Bird

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird

And catch the word for your breakfast plate.

If you’re a bird, be an early bird - 

But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

Some are short and sweet. Others are long and silly. Along with the poems are unique illustrations that add to the poems. I wonder if Silverstein drew the illustrations and wrote the poems to match?

The Toucan

Tell me who can

Catch a toucan?

Lou can.

Just how few can

Ride a toucan?

Two can.

What kind of goo can

Stick you to the toucan?

Glue can.

Who can write some

More about the toucan?

You can!

All the poems are written simple with rhyme. They will make all children, 0-99 years old, giggle and smile. Some are plain silly. Others encourage freedom of expression. Others promote diversity. Rare is the poem that is serious.

One I believe Silverstein wrote just for adults. It is titled the same as the book, “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” It encourages adults to slow down and look at the world in childlike wonder.

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.

What about you? Have you read Shel Silverstein before? What is your favorite?