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The Pilgrim Poem by Anonymous is an adaptation of the original poem – The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole. This poem is about an elderly man who crosses a gulf in the evening and realizes that anybody who comes after him will have to face the same difficulties as him while crossing. So, he builds a bridge for the stranger who will follow later.
The poem starts by telling us about a pilgrim who was traveling alone on a highway. Soon it was evening and the weather was cold. The poet also describes the evening as ‘gray’ which could mean cloudy or late evening time when the sun has just set. At that time, he came to a gulf that was deep, vast, and wide. The old man was able to cross it even when it was dusk, as he was an experienced traveler who may have also passed the gulf many times. But even though he had crossed it, he stopped and built a bridge across it.
As he was busy with his work, a fellow pilgrim reached there. He asked the old man, why he was wasting his time building the bridge when he had already crossed the gulf. He also tells the old man that he is very old and he may not live to pass this way again and so why build the bridge anyway.
The pilgrim stopped his work and lifted his old gray head to answer the fellow pilgrim. He said that while he was traveling, he saw a young person follow the same path. That youth will soon reach this gulf and at dawn, he may not be able to judge the depth of the gulf and being inexperienced may fall to his death. And therefore, he was building the bridge for him.
In a symbolic sense, we could say that an old man was on the journey of life. The evening resembles that he was quite old and his life was almost over – just like the day was getting over. Gray could also symbolize the old age of the old man who is walking on the highway of life. The gulf represents a big problem or problems he encountered during his journey.