A Ladder Story

They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
I was always there right on the job

They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run
Made it race against time
Once I built a railroad, now it’s done
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower up to the sun
Brick and rivet and lime
Once I built a tower, now it’s done
Brother, can you spare a dime?

“Brother, Can You Spare A Dime” (1930) by E. Y.  Harburg and Jay Gorney


A ladder was built to do a job,
So do a job it did:
When “reach above” was needed, well,
It never ran or hid

Until one day the need was gone,
The latter left to rot –
Although as full of usefulness
As when it first was bought

As with the ladder, so with men
And women that were here —
Their usefulness abandoned by
Their erstwhile puppeteer –

Once we were taught, as little kids —
The words still true, and sound —
“Love people and use things, and not
The other
Way
Around.”

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One thought to “A Ladder Story”

  1. I am loving this series. When I was at art school back in the sixties….I painted a series based on a wood yard in Rochester, Kent….these photographs remind me of that wood yard…superb. Have a lovely weekend. Janet:)

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