Which Are You?
by: Ella Wheeler Wilcox
There are two kinds of people on earth to-day;
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.
Not the sinner and 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,
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 share
Your portion of labor, and worry and care?
Date of reading: October 23rd
Main Theme: the true differences of people
My response: I think this poem has some really smart insight into what truly makes people different. It takes a look at various popular schools of thought; wealth, happiness, pride, goodness – and says well you can’t really label people as one of the other because these attributes may change over a person’s life, or you can’t really judge them by such a category because there are other factors that determine whether you’re in it or not. Then it goes on to say that there are just two things you can say a person is; a “leaner”, or a “lifter”. These terms are rather ambiguous but the poem goes on to explain them; leaners are people who selfishly let others do everything for them, and lifters are trying to help everyone else. It also says there is a very wide gap between the number of lifter and that of leaners; it’s not well balanced. I think this poem is very impactful because it uses new terms then goes on to describe them; it makes readers try to get into the authors perspective in order to understand what she has to say, and thus they can better understand her views. The end of the poem is even more effective because it asks the reader which person they consider themselves to be; making them think about whether or not they’re truly a good contribution to their community.