The Bridge Builder

My fourth grade teacher in public school, Miss Grace Wells, made us memorize lots of poems, including a few psalms, and taught us some ancient kids songs. She had been my mom’s school teacher in the 1920s. If I figured right, she was my teacher in 1967. Yes, she was old and about to retire.

I’m often surprised at the number of times I presently draw on what I learned in that 4th grade classroom. This was perhaps my favorite poem committed to memory. Unfortunately, only parts and pieces remain in my mind.

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”