Poems and Prose

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The House by the Side of the Road

New England poet Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911) evokes the age old image of
a humble house where the weary traveler finds a welcome - a house such as
Baucis and Philemon's - to remind us that we are here to help one another
along life's journey. Friends are "help-mates" to each other.

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that swell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by;
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears
Both parts of an infinite plan;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by;
They are good, they are bad, they are weak,
They are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat
Or hurl the cynic's ban? -
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Sam Walter Foss