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 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 pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”