Lifting and Leaning

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.

Not the good and the bad, for ’tis well understood
The good are half bad and the bad are half good.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift-flying years
Brings each man his laughter and each man his tears.

Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man’s wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span
He who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.

No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the world’s masses
Are ever divided in just two classes.

And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I ween,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load
Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?

Or are you a leaner who lets others bear
Your portion of worry and labor and care?


Poet: Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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