One Thousand On The Road



I watched one thousand people walk along a darkened road –
A road which, leading nowhere, passed nearby my poor abode.
All steady and without a sound they moved as by one mind.
I waited by my door to ask them what they thought to find.
 
The first came near enough to hear me shout aloud “hullo;
You know this path is endless and to nothing does it go,
And yet you walk it stubbornly as if an aim it hath.”
“It matters not,” he said to me; “at least it is a path.”
 
He never slowed his steady gait, still questions did I dare:
“But sir, what of these thousand souls who walk without a care?
They follow in your every step, why lead you them astray?”
“It matters not,” he said again; “for is it not a way?”
 
He kept his eyes unshifting on the path before his feet,
As if he feared to leave that comfort confine of the street.
I stepped aside to let him pass – I’d naught from him to gain –
Then focused on the dogged crowd that followed in his train.
 
The dismal one who came behind had eyes so full of tears
That as he turned to look at me I knew he’d wept for years.
I asked him why he trudged along so far without an aim;
He wiped his cheeks and answered me in words betraying shame:
 
“I was afraid to walk the road that long I yearned to try,
Till seeing how another man could walk it, so did I.
I made us two upon the road, a quest that promised fame.
Yet here I am, no glory gained, and still without a name.”
 
His weak resolve bewildered me and prompted me to ask:
“Why do you not, for glory sought, reverse your futile task?”
Now as he walked he wept again, and answered with a moan:
“It is my fear that keeps me here; I will not walk alone.”
 
I let him go his burdened way, since pity had I none.
In questioning one thousand souls, I hoped at least for one
To give me useful reasons why so many were inclined
To walk that useless road on end; could all of them be blind?
 
The third in line walked smugly with a self-important stride.
When asked the worth of walking, his response was one of pride.
“Behind me are one thousand men and ever there are more.
We men who walk before them are the men they must adore.”
 
The crowd went on – I questioned more to find their common goal.
One said: “I go because I must,” another: “tis a stroll.”
For some it was a merry march, for others ‘twas a chore,
But of some consequential end I could not gather more.
 
So wearied of my queries as I gave up hope at last,
I stopped and stood back helplessly as still they crowded past.
The column turned into a stream, the stream into a mob,
And filled the road like shadows with a weighty footfall throb.
 
In flocks of mindless hundreds drove the dreary rabble by,
Till counting, I did wonder that the end was nowhere nigh.
I’d quite astutely tallied up one thousand at the first,
But in the time I waited many thousands had traversed.
 
For countless days I waited for the multitude to pass,
Struck dumb in captivation at the mesmerizing mass.
I rubbed my eyes as I espied a void around the bend,
As all at once like fleeting clouds the crowd came to an end.
 
I stood in desolation in the vacant aftermath,
The object of my intrigue having gone along the path.
Unhappy with the empty silence ‘round my poor abode,
I walked to catch that aimless crowd upon this nameless road.
Font size:
Collection  PDF     
 

Written on May 23, 2011

Submitted by JohnsMusings on June 11, 2022

Modified on May 02, 2023

3:30 min read
1,293

Quick analysis:

Scheme AABB CXDD EEFF GGHH XXII JJII KKLL MMBB NNOO CCOO PPQQ JJRR SSTT DDAA
Closest metre Iambic heptameter
Characters 3,342
Words 702
Stanzas 14
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

John M. Broadhead

John grew up in a rural area outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was afforded endless room for his imagination to grow from an early age. Filmmaking was his first passion, a passion which led him to screenwriting and then to poetry and prose. His Bachelors degree is in English Literature, and he has written several feature length screenplays, two science fiction novels and a collection of poetry. He still lives in Albuquerque. Please follow me at www.johnmbroadhead.com for news about my upcoming novel release! more…

All John M. Broadhead poems | John M. Broadhead Books

15 fans

Discuss the poem One Thousand On The Road with the community...

13 Comments
  • Giselavigil
    Wow! Simply brilliant.
    LikeReply5 months ago
  • bad_horse
    This is one of my top contenders for Poem of the Year.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • lovingempath
    I still find this poem to be a piece of poetic genius. And the other poem submitted by John this same month was a very close toss-up. It was a coin-flip decision. I admire everything about this poet.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
    • JohnsMusings
      Your kind words are so appreciated. Thank you.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Philipo
    Fine work. Enlightening and educative. Funny too.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • BetsyStephens
    I find I keep returning to read your poem. The journey you take us on is profound and memorable. What a gift of poetry you have shared with us all.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • robertrad2021
    I love this poem!
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • janet_1
    I like the rhyme and cadence of this poem. I like to memorize poetry, and such rhythm makes it fun and easy. I will be memorizing this one. Most of all. I like the message of this poem. I can relate. It reflects the reality of the lemming quality of human beings to follow a leader rather than think for themselves. And finally, I love the irony of the final verse. 
    LikeReply 31 year ago
    • JohnsMusings
      Thank you so much for the kind words and for your vote! To have one's work memorized is the greatest honor a writer can receive.
      LikeReply1 year ago
    • janet_1
      You're welcome. It's worthy, and I'm enjoying the process of committing it to memory.
      LikeReply 21 year ago
    • janet_1
      It has taken me a while, but I finally have your poem, One Thousand on the Road, committed to memory... at least I can sometimes say it all without peeking. It has been a joy to review it every day on my morning walk, and I love it more with repetition. It has a deep meaning for me, that I'm guessing you intended, a statement on a few possible reasons for getting caught up in a cult, which in today's political climate, seems to get stronger with time. "But of some consequential end, I could not gather more." 
      LikeReply 21 year ago
    • JohnsMusings
      Thank you so much. It's for the sake of comments like yours that I keep writing. It's extremely fulfilling when a project strikes a nerve and becomes meaningful to someone. So thank you!
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • lovingempath
    Profoundly striking on so many levels. I could probably read this a Thousand times and never tire of trying to guess the hidden message(s): I also think it was perfectly developed and because I personally find 'form' and 'rhythm' important elements in a 'perfectly developed' masterpiece (just my own preference)...I believe the author of this poem is deserving of honors. 
    LikeReply 31 year ago
    • JohnsMusings
      Thank you so much! I too find structure to be integral to the creation of a cohesive and atmospheric poem (personal preference), so it's something I like to put a lot of thought into. I'm so glad you found it effective! 
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • EtiquetteLearner
    I thought this poem was well written. It's rhyme meter and subject kept me intrigued all the way through.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • mauluccisantino
    Its relevant and I empathize with it deeply. It’s also beautifully written.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • BCByron
    Solid rhythm and engaging storyline. Sgarp execution from start to finish. Thought-provoking.
    LikeReply 31 year ago
  • 7samcro
    I read every single poem in this contest, I narrowed it down to a select few. This was not only a story that flowed very well, that also rhymed!, but one that had a moral as well. The ending, how you ended up following the masses was great. It demonstrated how humans conform to society. It is natural but sometimes people aimlessly follow what everyone else is doing. I enjoyed how you added how those who follow may do it out of fear as well. Job well done!! 
    LikeReply 21 year ago
    • JohnsMusings
      Thank you so much for the kind words and for your vote! To have one's work memorized is the greatest honor a writer can receive.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • babbina
    Out of all the poems I’ve read, I can’t stop thinking about this one. It has an impeccable rhythm & organizational feel to it. It just flowed so naturally & the imagery is so vivid. Great job!
    LikeReply 31 year ago
    • JohnsMusings
      Thank you so much! Your positive comments on the rhyme and imagery mean more a lot!
      LikeReply1 year ago

Translation

Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Citation

Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

Style:MLAChicagoAPA

"One Thousand On The Road" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/131578/one-thousand-on-the-road>.

Become a member!

Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

June 2024

Poetry Contest

Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.
9
days
15
hours
52
minutes

Special Program

Earn Rewards!

Unlock exciting rewards such as a free mug and free contest pass by commenting on fellow members' poems today!

Browse Poetry.com

Quiz

Are you a poetry master?

»
Which poet is associated with the poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"?
A Ralph Waldo Emerson
B Emily Dickinson
C Maya Angelou
D Langston Hughes