Saturday, September 14, 2013

LET ME LIVE IN A HOUSE BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD



My father would have been 92 this week. Here's one of the poems he used to recite as he went about the house he built for us, doing chores, baking bread, and cracking dark jokes:

LET ME LIVE IN A HOUSE BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn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 the 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
Nor 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 and 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.
And 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.

--Sam Walter Foss

4 comments:

  1. I remember the poem but I'd forgotten about Utah Phillips. Thanks for posting his interview.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry, Heather. I forgot to say what Lizzie said below: May your father rest in peace. Amen.

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  2. Reminds me of Irish poet James Stephens' "The Road." Whose last two quatrains are:

    Let us go out and walk upon the road
    And quit for evermore the brick-built den
    And lock and key, the hidden shy abode
    That separates us from our fellow men

    And by contagion of the sun we many
    Catch at a spark of that primeval fire
    And learn that we are better than our clay
    And equal to the peaks of our desire.

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  3. Thank you for the intro to Utah Phillips-what a guy! Going to watch more of him now. Beautiful poem too. May your father rest in peace Heather.

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