Two Kinds of People
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I discovered this poem when I was in 8th or 9th grade, while working on an English project. When I came across this Ella Wheeler Wilcox poem in the library, it caused me to stop everything. I always felt that I was a doer—a problem solver—a man of action. After I read this poem several times, I realized that I was a lifter. And I was determined to never change from that and also do my part to help others lean less and lift more. I’m forever grateful to Ella Wheeler Wilcox for helping me understand who I really am and for the motivation her poem has brought me throughout my life.
Vice Mayor, City of Saratoga
Two Kinds of People
There are two kinds of people on earth today;
Just two kinds of people, no more I say.
Not the sinner and the saint, for it’s well understood
The good are half bad and the bad are half good.
Not the rich and the poor, for to rate a man’s wealth,
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.
Not the humble and proud, for in life’s little span,
He who puts on vain airs, is not counted a man.
Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.
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 earth’s masses
Are always divided in just these two classes
And oddly enough, you will find, too, I ween,
There’s 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 labor and worry and care?
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
2 responses to “Chuck Page: A favorite poem”
Very good poem. Definitely a lifter. I read it to my grandson and we decided he was a lifter too. I think it will serve us both well.
Thanks again for sharing.
One thing that is fun about Chuck’s choice is that it uses anapestic tetrameter, the same meter that Dr. Seuss used for a lot of his work (example: “and to think that I saw it on Mulberry street”). That meter makes the poem fun to read out loud as well as to read on the page.