The House by the Side of the Road

by SAM WALTER FOSS (1858-1911)

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn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.

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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 was a New England librarian and poet. Born on June 19, 1858 in Candia, NH, he was named after his two grandfathers. Sam, as he preferred to be called, went to college in Rhode Island. In 1887, he married a minister’s daughter, Carrie M. Conant. They had two children: Saxton and Mary. Sam served as librarian for the Somerville Public Library in Massachusetts from 1898 until his death at his home at 249 Highland Avenue, on February 26, 1911 at only 53 years of age.

Sam Walter Foss Contemporaries
Frank Lebby Stanton
Louise Imogen Guiney
Henry Lawson
Rudyard Kipling

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