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building bridges for others
Posted by: Troy (---.client.mchsi.com)
Date: June 16, 2003 11:19PM

I need help locating a poem that apparently was well known in my youth. In the poem a man is questioning a bridge builder why he is building a bridge over a stream he has just crossed. The answer is because a youth is coming after him and he is making the way easier. Can anyone help.

Re: building bridges for others
Posted by: rikki (---.wc.optusnet.com.au)
Date: June 17, 2003 12:25AM

A google search turned up this poem -

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To 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 fears 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 must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide --
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"

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 pit-fall be,
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

Will Allen Dromgoole

Re: building bridges for others
Posted by: marian2 (---.in-addr.btopenworld.com)
Date: June 17, 2003 04:01AM

Interesting - I'd guess it was quite an old poem - these days we'd expect the young man to build the bridge for an old man following him, who wouldn't have the energy any more. I'm not missing the spiritual 'message' - it's just that the physical scenario seems out of step with today, when the young blaze the trail.

Re: building bridges for others
Posted by: ilza (200.162.247.---)
Date: June 17, 2003 06:30AM

She wrote this poem circa 1900

Will Allen Dromgoole (1860-1934)
was a Tennessee poet, author and playwright

Re: building bridges for others
Posted by: Troy (---.client.mchsi.com)
Date: June 17, 2003 10:07PM

Thanks for all the help. One user commented that the message seems out of step for today but I respectfully beg to differ. I am 73 years old and still consider myself a bridge builder, not only for my family and the grandchildren but for the college students whose classes I occassionally teach. It's interesting the number of phone calls I get asking for my opinions ... and the calls I get thanking me for advise. It is not something I push but when the questions come I answer to the best of my ability from my experience.

Re: building bridges for others
Posted by: marian2 (---.in-addr.btopenworld.com)
Date: June 18, 2003 03:36AM

That wasn't what I meant. I have the greatest respect for advice and help from older people, and gain a lot from it, myself. I was commenting on the physicality of the metaphor - an older person physically building a bridge to help a younger one. I don't think that image would have been used in a poem today, as it is generally assumed that heavy physical work is normally done by a younger person. The idea that a younger person wouldn't have developed the strength and stamina to do such work is quite old-fashioned. That's why I thought it was quite an old poem. However, the idea that older people have experience and maturity to provide advice and help to younger ones, is, thankfully, still current.

Re: building bridges for others
Posted by: dennis (---.gardena-04rh15rt.ca.dial-access.att.net)
Date: June 26, 2003 11:51AM

It seems the world we build from day to day is a bridge from the past
to a (hopefully) infinite future. Even our poems may be bridges.
Perhaps the child is a metaphor for the future and we are the bridge.
best dlc

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