Poem: “A Fence Or An Ambulance?”

warningBelow is a lengthy poem, written in 1895, entitled “A Fence or an Ambulance?” I enjoyed the wisdom of this poem and hope that you will as well. While some see our standards, rules and and principles as binding and restrictive, we see them as safeguards from catastrophes. I am all for rescuing those who fall – but I would much rather do all that I can to keep them off the edge of the cliff.  Someone has said, “It is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” Thank you for reading.

 A FENCE OR AN AMBULANCE

By Joseph Malins

***

‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,

Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;

But over its terrible edge there had slipped

A duke and full many a peasant.

So the people said something would have to be done,

But their projects did not at all tally;

Some said, “Put a fence ’round the edge of the cliff,”

Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”

 ***

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,

For it spread through the neighboring city;

A fence may be useful or not, it is true,

But each heart became full of pity

For those who slipped over the dangerous cliff;

And the dwellers in highway and alley

Gave pounds and gave pence, not to put up a fence,

But an ambulance down in the valley.

***

“For the cliff is all right, if you’re careful,” they said,

“And, if folks even slip and are dropping,

It isn’t the slipping that hurts them so much

As the shock down below when they’re stopping.”

So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,

Quick forth would those rescuers sally

To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,

With their ambulance down in the valley.

 ***

Then an old sage remarked: “It’s a marvel to me

That people give far more attention

To repairing results than to stopping the cause,

When they’d much better aim at prevention.

Let us stop at its source all this mischief,” cried he,

“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;

If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense

With the ambulance down in the valley.”

 ***

“Oh he’s a fanatic,” the others rejoined,

“Dispense with the ambulance? Never!

He’d dispense with all charities, too, if he could;

No! No! We’ll support them forever.

Aren’t we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?

And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?

Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence,

While the ambulance works in the valley?”

 ***

But the sensible few, who are practical too,

Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;

They believe that prevention is better than cure,

And their party will soon be the stronger.

Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,

And while other philanthropists dally,

They will scorn all pretense, and put up a stout fence

On the cliff that hangs over the valley.

 ***

Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,

For the voice of true wisdom is calling.

“To rescue the fallen is good, but ’tis best

To prevent other people from falling.”

Better close up the source of temptation and crime

Than deliver from dungeon or galley;

Better put a strong fence ’round the top of the cliff

Than an ambulance down in the valley.

About James Rasbeary

I am the pastor of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Wylie, Texas. Check out my blog at www.broraz.com.
This entry was posted in Articles, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Poem: “A Fence Or An Ambulance?”

  1. bethrasbeary says:

    Wow. Awesome poem! It seems that Christians have always faced the same problems, no matter what the time period. Sadly, we don’t seem to learn from the mistakes of others…we keep falling over the cliff.

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