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The Dangerous Cliff

- A poem about prevention -

'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.
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."

The lament of the crowd was profound and loud
As their hearts overflowed with pity.
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
As it spread through the neighboring cities.
So a collection was made to accumulate aid
And dwellers in highway and alley,
Gave dollars and cents not to furnish a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right, if your careful," they said,
"And, if folks even slip and are falling;
It isn't the slipping an falling 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 curing the cause,
When they'd much better aim at prevention.
For the mischief of course should be stopped at its source;
Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
It makes far better sense to rely on a fence
Than an ambulance down in the valley."

"He’s wrong in his head,” the majority said,
“He would end all our earnest endeavors.
Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall
And giving them care liberally.
Why a redundant fence is of no consequence,
If the ambulance works in the valley.”

Now this story seems queer as I’ve given it here,
But things often occur which are stranger,
More humane we assert to repair the hurt,
Than the plan of removing the danger,
The best possible course would be a safeguard to source,
And to attend to things rationally.
Yes, let’s build up the fence and allow us to dispense,
With our reliance on these ambulances down in the valley.


Joseph Malins (1895)
Wellness Institute
954 Royal York Rd
Toronto, Ontario M8X 2E5
Clinic Hours:
Monday to Friday: 9:30 AM to 8:00 PM
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