And the dark street winds and bends,
Although it’s “just a kids' poem,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” echoes a classic scenario from Romantic poetry, in which the poet/speaker retreats from the busy, noisy, worldly city into the quiet, innocent, spiritually renewing countryside.
Here’s Wordsworth (a poet obsessed with childhood innocence) in “Tintern Abbey”:
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft—
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
Here’s W. B. Yeats in “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”:
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
You could argue that Silverstein’s speaker is retreating more to the ‘burbs than to the countryside per se, but the “place where the sidewalk ends” is nonetheless full of natural beauty: grass, sun, birds.
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