The Right Kind of People


Poem by Edwin Markham, 1832 – 1940 A few years ago while perusing a book of American Poetry, I happened upon this poem which has stuck with me since. I recently took the time to find out who Edwin Markham was, and it turns out he is an alum of San Jose State, at the time called San Jose Normal School and eventually San Jose State Teachers College. More information can be obtained about Mr. Markham at

Gone is the city, gone the day,

Yet still the story and the meaning stay:

Once where a prophet in the palm shade basked

A traveler chanced at noon to rest his miles.

“What sort of people may they be,” he asked,

“In this proud city on the plains o’erspread?”

“Well, friend, what sort of people whence you came?”

“What sort?” the packman scowled; “why knaves and fools.”

“You’ll find the people here the same,” the wise man said.

Another stranger in the dusk drew near,

And pausing, cried “What sort of people here

In your bright city where yon towers arise?”

“Well, friend, what sort of people whence you came?”

“What sort?” the pilgrim smiled, “Good, true and wise.”

“You’ll find the people here the same,” The wise man said.

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