The House by the Side of the Road

Written by Sam Walter Foss

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.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
And the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

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.

When I worked at an Assisted Living Facility, a dear WWII vet who had memory deficits, one day rattled off a few lines of this poem, and cited the author. He said he was made to memorize it in Junior High, but couldn’t remember it all anymore. I looked it up when I got home from work that day, and it has become one of my all time favorites. Before I met this gentleman, I had never heard of Sam Walter Foss, now I’ll never forget him, and I feel I identify with his heart cry in this verse. enjoy.

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.

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By New Things Posted in Poetry

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