Study Guide

Where the Sidewalk Ends The City

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The City

In this poem, imagery of the bleak city contrasts the brilliance of nature. Throughout the poem, the city becomes a metaphor for industrialization, and the demands of life that force us to no longer be children, inside and out.

  • Lines 1-2: The sidewalk and the street automatically make us think of city life. In fact, you might even say they're symbols of the city. These first two lines are showing us that the preferred place of the poem's speaker is far away from streets and sidewalks.
  • Line 7: This line paints the image of the city as dark and black. Though the speaker never comes straight out and tells us we're in a city, his imagery places us somewhere industrial and polluted. Oh, and did you notice the alliteration in this line with the repeated "b" sound in blows and black?
  • Line 8: So the street we heard of before is not only a sign of the suburbs of the city, but it's dark and windy. We can think of a winding street as a metaphor for our path through the future, and this one doesn't sound all that awesome. We'd rather be out in a meadow with a moon-bird.
  • Line 9: This line smushes together the two worlds of the poem, merging nature imagery (flowers) with city imagery (asphalt). Does the line give the city some credit? It does admit that some things do grow there. Although, we've got to say an asphalt flower doesn't sound like anything we'd want to give someone in a bouquet.
  • Line 11: If there were anything that would lead out of this grim place, it would be arrows in chalk, drawn by children on the sidewalk. At least one merit of the sidewalk is that it can be drawn on by chalk.
  • Line 15: Children seem to be associated with the world of nature and imagination in this poem, which would mean that adults should perhaps be associated with the city. Maybe, this poem is telling us, we need nature to help us keep in touch with the child inside of us.

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