Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dreams, a Poet, and Home

I found this photo in my files, and later came across this quote:

The woods were made for the hunters of dreams,
The brooks for the fishers of song;
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The streams and the woods belong.

Which led me to explore Mr. Foss and his poetry. Surprise! I have a line from one of his other poems in an embroidered piece found in a thrift shop some years ago. The poem from which the quote came is this one, which was my mother's favorite poem:

The 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THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn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.
Mr. Foss was a prolific poet, who wrote a poem a day for publication. I wrote a poem a day in January this year and it is no small undertaking. His poems were classified as simple, every-man type poetry, and perhaps it was, but in these simple lines he strikes a truth that greater poets might miss--the everyday pleasure of living quietly and kindly. There is much to be said for being a friend to man.
My house by the side of the road, Spring 2007, which was before we put on the new deck. The daffodils are just opening now and should be at this stage in another week or so.
Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Please share in the comments.

Links to some of Mr. Foss' work:


Janet, said...

I love that poem, The House by the Side of the Road, Susanna. I could use that as a writing prompt and write about my grandma and I sitting on her front porch and watching life go by. We did it many a days when I was a child. I like poems like that. They are simple and easy to understand, yet the words flow beautifully.

hart said...

I like that poem too--but my mother does not. Back in the days when children were expected to come out and entertain their parents's friend with a song or poem, she memorized the first stanza at about seven. She accidently substituted 'men' for man. She was outdone when everyone laughed, she didn't see what was so funny.--Jane

blessed country girl said...

I love that poem, my house is by the side of two roads, under one side, above another. There are days when there's too much dust, noise, and clamor all around. However on many others, just enough close proximity to not feel lonely. Like life I guess, a balance of the two, sweetened by the gentle breezes from the river, and softened with a hushed wind over the ridges. Your house is in a beautiful setting. Happy Spring!

Deborah Wilson said...

Good poems, Sue - thanks for sharing!

Granny Sue said...

I've been away all weekend so I am just reading your posts. I am always happy to find a new poet to read, and I did not realize Foss wrote so many poems--a treasure trove to sift through.

Blessed, your home sounds like a good place to be to watch people passing by. I am pretty isolated, so the only passers-by are my pets and maybe a deer or possum. But I am in total agreement with the spirit of this poem :)

JJM said...

You know of whom Foss reminds me, although he's almost a mirror image ... Don Blanding.

Compare Foss's "The House by the Side of the Road", for example, with Blanding's "Vagabond's House", which can be found under "poetry" on

Blanding is the wanderer dreaming of the home he dreams of having some day, with all his tangible memories around him; Foss is the stay-at-home watching the wanderers pass by; but it's the same longing for a home, and description of what home means. There's a resonance, I feel, between those two poems.

I think you'd probably like Don Blanding's poetry, Susanna. He doesn't always get it right, his poems are often pedestrian, but when he hits his stride, as he does here in what is probably his most famous poem, he's spot-on. From what little I've read of Foss (thank you for introducing him to us!), I suspect those two wrote on about the same level.


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