Study Guide

Where the Sidewalk Ends Exploration

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There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins (1-2)

Now don't these lines just make you want to get out your sleeping bag, your tent, and your pocketknife to go camp out in the woods for a few days? Well, regardless of whether they do or not, it takes an adventurous soul to venture out to an unknown place, beyond the city, where maps are of no use. Are you up for exploring the realm of your own imagination, wherever it may transport you?

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight (5)

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight (5)
Though this line doesn't talk directly about the moon at all, just the mention of the word moon makes us remember the human urge to explore – whether it's the Wild West, the stretches of outer space, or a realm we've created inside our minds. After all, it was this very urge that put a man on the moon in the first place.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black (7)

What Shmoop loves about this line is that we're being invited along for the ride. After all, what's exploration without having all your buddies along for the ride, or at the very least a sidekick.

And the dark street winds and bends (8)

When we think of a street, winding and bending off into the distance, we can't help but think of something else that winds and bends so much we can't tell where it's going: the future. This dark and windy road just might be a metaphor for what lies ahead. While the future may be the most exciting unknown to explore, it might help to take a step back, and explore something that helped us in our past, all the way back to our childhoods: the imagination.

We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow (10)

This description of the pace of the exploration makes us think this journey might be an epic one. Perhaps there's such a long journey ahead of us, we have to measure our energy, walking slowly and determinedly into the unknown.

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know (15)

It wouldn't suit quite a few adults to think of children as their guides on some unknown exploration. Adults often scoff at children because they think they're too young or they don't know enough. This poem, though, points to something children know better than the rest of us: that is, the way to having a good time using only our imaginations. Go to any nursery school at play time and you'll see what we mean.

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