Summary of the poem The Pilgrim

The poem ‘The Pilgrim’ is an inspiring and thought- provoking poem written by an unknown poet. This poem is about an old man who crosses the chasm in the evening and learns that anyone who comes after him would have to face the same difficulties as he faced while crossing the chasm.So he stops to build a bridge for an unknown youth traveller who is going to follow the same path after him even though the old man know that he himself never ever have the chance to cross that bridge.

Paraphrase of the poem The Pilgrim

The poem ‘The Pilgrim’ is a heart-touching poem written by an anonymous writer. It is about an old man. The old man is walking down a lonely pathway. On a cold and grey evening, he reaches a deep and wide chasm. The old man crosses the chasm in the dusk. He is experienced and he is not scared of it. However, when he reached the other side of the chasm safely, he stops and constructs a bridge over the ravine and the flowing water.

Seeing this, the traveller wonders why he’s wasting his time constructing a bridge across the chasm, because his trip is over, and he’s never going to go that way again. The fellow traveller is confused and asks again why the pilgrim who has already crossed the deep and wide ravine is constructing a bridge too late in the late evening.

The pilgrim lifts his old, grey head and describes his reasons. He says there is a fair-haired youth behind him who has to follow the same pathway he has. The old pilgrim was experienced, and he was not afraid to cross the ravine. The fair-haired youth, however, is inexperienced and there might be pitfalls for him. He, too, was going to have to cross the ravine in the twilight, and the old man was constructing a bridge to help this young man.

This poem gives us a beautiful message. It suggests that experienced people should always build the routes and roads easier for young people to follow.

Meanings of Important Words and Expressions

Chasm: ravine, a very deep, steep gap in the earth’s surface

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span the tide: go across the tide
ye : (archaic) you

even tide: late evening

pitfall: trap

Match the words in Column A with what they imply in Column B

1. Pilgrim – a dutiful man

2. journey – life

3. evening or close of day-old age

4. chasm, deep and wide – threat to life

5. building a bridge – solving the problem/getting rid of threat to life

6. pitfall – trap

7. close of day – death

II. Pick out words from the poem to fill in the web diagram. They should be related to the theme in the web. (Answers are only given)

III. (A) Note the rhyming words in the first stanza. (Answers are only given)

Way – gray/wide – side – tide / dim – him.

The poet has used a deliberate pattern of lines that rhyme with other lines in the poem or the stanza. This pattern can be identified by giving the rhyming pairs of words the same letter of the alphabet.

For example, 1st stanza of this poem has the pattern AABCCBB

So, AABCCBB is the Rhyme Scheme of the 1st stanza of the poem ‘The Pilgrim’

(B) Now write the Rhyme Scheme of the 2nd stanza ……. And 3rd stanza, too you may use the same letter as used in the 1st stanza.

Ans. (i) the 2nd stanza: ddaabb

(ii) the 3rd stanza: eeaaffcc


1. Inversion: sometimes, the poets change the correct grammatical prose order or words in a line of a poem. This may be to emphasize something or to make lines rhyme. This figure of speech is called ‘ Inversion’ or ‘Anastrophe’.
e. g. Ten thousand saw I at a glance. (The correct prose order is: I saw ten thousand at a glance.)

2.Tautology: Sometimes a line in a poem may contain two or more words that convey the same meaning. This figure of speech is called ‘Tautology’.
e. g. The fox was ‘cunning’ and ‘sly’. (The words ‘cunning’ and ‘sly’ have nearly the same meaning.)

3. Personification: When inanimate objects or ideas are given human qualities, the figure of speech is ‘Personification’.
e. g. (The flowers are given the human quality of dancing.)

4. Interrogation/Rhetorical Questions: When questions are asked to create a dramatic effect or to put across a point more effectively, and not to get an answer, the figure of speech is ‘Interrogation’ or ‘Rhetorical’ Question.
e. g. If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

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Q. Read the poem and write 3 qualities of each of the following.

1. The old pilgrim

2. The fellow – pilgrim

3. The young pilgrim


1. The old pilgrim

i. Old

ii. Experienced

iii. Helpful

2. The fellow – pilgrim

i. Curious

ii. Puzzled

iii. Thoughtless

3. The young pilgrim

i. Young

ii. Frightened

iii. Inexperienced

(V). Answer the following question

(a) Why did the old man have no need to build the bridge, across the chasm?
Ans. The old man had no need to build the bridge across the chasm because he had already crossed the chasm and would never pass that way again.

(b) What explanation did he give to the fellow-pilgrim for his thoughtful deed?
Ans. The old man said that though he had already crossed the chasm, there was a fair-haired youth who was about to pass that way. The old man was experienced and was not afraid of the chasm. However, the young man was Inexperienced and the chasm could prove to be a pitfall for him. He too had to cross it at twilight, and the old man was building a bridge to help this youth.

(c) What message does the poem convey to all of us?
Ans. The poem gives us a strong message. The underlying message of this poem is that those who have successfully encountered and endured life’s difficulties must be selfless and support those who are inexperienced and face difficulties.The message that the poem conveys to us is that we must be generous and unselfish and think of others. We must try to help others who are not as experienced as we are.

(VI) Your own response

Imagine that you are the fellow – pilgrim and you wish to share your experience of the incident in the poem. Write a short article about it for a magazine/journal. Also, convey what change it has brought in your life.
Ans. There are certain turning points in one’s life which have an impact on the person and which prove to a turning point in his or her life. Let me share an incident which shook my life.
I was on a hike in some hilly area when I had to cross a deep ravine which had a gushing stream flowing through it. I managed to cross it in some way but an old man ahead of me was also trying to cross it nimbly. As I was about to continue my way, the old man caught my eye as he turned back to build a rough bridge across the water. It took him a lot of effort and time and I stood by wondering. Finally, I asked him, “Sir, it is very late evening now and you are not likely to cross this way again, why are you building a bridge now?”

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The old man’s answer floored me. “You are confused child, ” he said with a smile. “I have completed my journey -right’. But behind me is a young and inexperienced boy. He will soon reach this chasm and may face difficulty in crossing it. I am building this bridge so that he may not face any problem.”

I stood still, amazed at the generosity and unselfishness of the old man, who was putting in time and effort for someone whom he did not even know.
This incident left an indelible mark on my mind. Since then I always try to help people even if it is not beneficial for me in any way. However, it gives me something invaluable – peace and happiness. Try it out, won’t you?

Vii. Frame a pointwise Analysis / Appreciation of the poem The Pilgrim.


1. Poem and poet: ‘The Pilgrim’ by Will Alan Dromgoole.

2. Theme: The main theme of the poem is that one has to be unselfish and help others in life. Those who are experienced, successful and have achieved many things in life must help those who are inexperienced and struggling in life. The poet is trying to convey that one should always think of the benefit of others even if it doesn’t benefit us.

Tone: Serious and thought-provoking

4. Structure and stanzas: Stanzas of unequal length; 1st stanza – 7 lines; 2nd stanza – 6 lines; 3rd stanza – 8 lines.

5. Rhyme and Rhythm: 1st stanza – AABCCBB; 2nd stanza – ddaabb; 3rd stanza – eeaaffcc

6. Language and Imagery: The narrative is direct and straight forward and some archaic words are used. There is a very powerful message in the poem. The descriptions are imaginative and vivid.

7. Figures of Speech: Inversion, Tautology, Personification, Interrogation.

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