House By The Side of the Road

Times change, don’t they?

While I was in college, I wrote and read a lot of poetry. I fell madly in love with the 17th century poet John Donne my senior year. I entered a poetry contest. I took a class.

But then after college I got away from it. In fact, I got to a point where I really didn’t “get it” when it came to poetry.

Over the past couple of months, however, poetry has been making a comeback in my life. Not the highly cerebral poetry like Donne’s, but more the poetry of the common man. It has touched my heart in old, familiar ways.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I went to see my parents, and while I was there, my dad shared a poem with me called “The House By The Side of the Road.” It’s a well-known poem. You’ve probably heard it, but it’s new to me—and heavens! It affected me so deeply that it hasn’t left the back of my mind ever since. If I ever pick up my embroidery floss, this will be the thing I cross-stitch. 

If you haven’t heard it before, can I have the honor of introducing it to you? If you’re like the Old Me, and poetry isn’t your thing, I apologize. I get it. Just scroll on past.

The House by the Side of the Road
by Sam Walter Foss

“He was a friend to man, and lived 
In a house by the side of the road.”
— Homer

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn 
In the place of their self-content; 
There are souls like stars, that dwell 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 a 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; 
That 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- 
It’s here 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.

Maybe having my dad read this aloud to me as we rode in the car is the reason it affected me so much. It made me want to be a better person! Wow, words can be powerful. Am I the only one feeling a resurgence of poetry lately? Do you have a favorite poet or style? Have you ever written anything you like?

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