In the poem “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, which poetic techniques does the poet Shel Silverstein use to make the work so moving? The poem “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein signifies the passage of life. The poet uses a sidewalk as an extended metaphor to describe the dark and dreary ways of life. The end of the sidewalk is supposed to represent heaven or the end of the passage. His purpose is to teach the reader about the steady pace in which one walks towards his or her own morality, through a poem.

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The poet uses a prominent theme, various tones and an extended metaphor to make the poem moving and touching to the reader. Shel Silverstein uses an extended metaphor to make the poem moving and intriguing. An extended metaphor is a metaphor that lasts for several sentences and sometimes for an entire work. For example, “There is a place where the sidewalk ends, and before the street begins, and there the grass grows soft and white. ” The end of the sidewalk the poet describes represents the end of a journey. It also symbolizes the end of life when you meet with your own impermanence and reach death.

The place where the “grass grows” might characterize heaven. Later in the poem the poet describes a sidewalk. The quote, “Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black, and the dark street winds and bends,” shows us that the sidewalk or street represents the passage of life. It exemplifies the troubles and complications you face in the long monotonous journey of life. The place he describes at the beginning of the poem is probably a place the poet longs to escape to from his dark journey. Consequently using an extended metaphor helped Silverstein create a moving poem.

A prominent theme is also one of the several poetic techniques that helped make this poem moving. The theme in this poem is the journey from life to death. It is about the complications many face during this journey. For example, “ Let us leave this

Page 2 Poetry Commentary – Where the Sidewalk ends Essay

place where the smoke blows black, And the dark street winds and bends. ” The quote shows us that the poet was probably frustrated with his troubles when he wrote this poem. He emphasizes the difficulties you face during the journey of life by using words such as “dark” or “black”. Another example is the quote, “For the children, they mark, they know.

The place where the sidewalk ends. ” This quote embodies the point in the journey of a child’s life when they must cope with reality and face their own mortality. This marks the end of the journey, when you embark towards heaven. The third example is the verse “And there the grass grows soft and bright, And there the sun burns crimson bright”. This quote describes the rather heavenly after-life you reach after the journey, away from the troubles in life. It might be a world the poet aspires to be in. Another example of a poetic technique used in the poem is a variety of tones.

The first stanza bears an optimistic or cheerful tone, while the second and third is relatively dull and melancholic. For example, “And there the sun burns crimson bright, And there the moon bird rests from his flight,”. While describing his idea of heaven or the end of troubles the poet manages to maintain a moderately zealous tone by using terms like “crimson bright”. A second example is the verse, “Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black, And the dark street winds and bends. Past the pits where asphalt flowers grow.

This particular part of the poem possesses a dull and dreary tone like shown in this verse. This is because he is trying to describe the complications he is trying so hard to escape from. Accordingly by using various tones the poet has made the poem touching. In conclusion, the poet has used a prominent theme, and extended metaphor and a variety of tones to construct a moving poem. In my opinion, the poem is very captivating and moving. As a reader, I felt that Silverstein’s purpose was fulfilled and his message was clear throughout the poem. His portrayal of life’s journey was fascinating and well defined.

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