By Charles Benvegar
I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town;
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a side wall fell.
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
And the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No, indeed!
Just common labor is all I need;
I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do!”
I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?
The author of this poem is Carmelo Benvenga (1913 – 1989) of Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It was first published in 1967 under Mr. Benvenga’s pseudonym, Charles Benvegar. It was published in the book ‘Songs of the Free State Bards’, a poetry anthology edited by Vincent Godfrey Burns, Poet Laureate of Maryland, and
printed by New World Books of Washington D.C., copyright 1967. The poem is included on this website with the permission of Carl Benvenga, Carmelo’s son.
Following is another poem written by Charles Benvegar, also included with the permission of Mr. Benvegar’s family. Its message is equally inspiring as the
message of ‘The Wreckers’, emphasizing the values of compassion and empathy. This poem was written in 1937.
Oh, what a burden is failure! What a blow!
What a tinge of Hell when the spirits are low!
How does it feel to reach goals aspired?
And, how does it feel to be admired?
I’d like to know of the victor’s feel,
Not of constantly being trampled under heel.
Please let me know ‘Mr. Big’ on high,
How you towered upward to reach the sky.
Extend from the heights your helping hand,
And lift, not crush, less fortunate man.