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The ambulance down in the valley
When I was young and living in Scotland, my Mum used to play a John Denver video in which he recited a poem called "The ambulance down in the valley". It made an impact, and has stuck with me since, in fact, I doubt a month goes by where I don't read it to someone. A while back D'ave submitted it to Jon Strande's story blog
, but I love it, and wanted it posted here too:
|THE AMBULANCE DOWN IN THE VALLEY
T'was a dangerous cliff as they freely confessed
though to walk near its edge was so pleasant.
But over its edge had slipped a Duke,
and it fooled 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 around the edge of the cliff,"
others, "an ambulance down in the valley."
The lament of the crowd was profound and loud
as their hearts overflowed with pity.
But the ambulance carried the cry of the day
as it spread to 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 alright if you're careful they said,
and if folks ever slip and are falling;
it's not the slipping and falling that hurts them
so much as the shock down below when they're stopping.
And so for years as these mishaps occurred
quick forth would the rescuers sally,
to pick up the victims who fell from the cliff
with the ambulance down in the valley.
Said one in his plea, it's a marvel to me
that you'd give so much greater attention
to repairing results than to curing the cause, why
you'd much better aim at prevention.
For the mischief of course should be stopped at its source;
come friends and neighbors 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.
He's the kind of a man that would shrink his responsible work,
but we will support it forever.
Aren't we picking up all just as fast as they fall,
and giving them care liberally.
Why a superfluous 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 oft 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 to safeguard the source,
and to attend to things rationally.
Yes, build up the fence and let us dispense
with this ambulance down in the valley.
Think about it...!
Posted by Rich...! | Permalink
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If this poem were written by a South African, there'd be mention of a mass ambulance-driver strike the next day!
Posted by: Martin | 13 Jun 2005 07:15:47
Posted by: Rich...! | 13 Jun 2005 09:08:01
This sounds like a Welsh story - rather than a Scottish one?
If I could be arsed I'd look it up...
...but life's too short - especially if you live near a cliff!
(NB - there was a very nice neighbour called Dave who wore a kilt to the evening party/reception - he did the scottish nation proud! ... and Bhangra rocks!)
Posted by: davidcoe... | 16 Jun 2005 01:32:56
No wonder you remembered about this song for so long... I have always been amazed by what things stay in our memory since chilhood.
Posted by: Ambulance Nurse | 6 Jul 2005 15:56:25
thanks! My dad would recite this to me when I was a child, too. I have wondered where to find a copy! Thanks, again
Posted by: Laney | 27 Aug 2007 17:01:19