The House by the Side of the Road

Soon we’ll be making final preparations for the Thanksgiving feast. Tables will groan under the weight of the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, casseroles of all sorts and a dizzying array of desserts. Awhile later, we all will be groaning under the weight of our consumption. In times past, as I wallowed underneath the strain of my belt I liked to look around at my family and friends and remind myself what a lucky man I was.

I’m approaching sixty years old. Until a few months ago I was blessed to have both parents in my life. Thankfully, I still have Mother and I hope she’ll be around until I reach a hundred. These disjointed thoughts somehow led me to remember Dad’s love of poetry.

MomDad-2008While there are a few poems I like to read from time to time, I’m no lover of poetry in general. Longfellow and Poe pretty much round out my repertoire. Dad though, not only appreciated it, but committed long passages to memory. From time to time he would recite them. One of his favorites was Sam Walter Foss’ The House by the Side of the Road.

Dad never strove for fame or fortune, but I do believe he lived up to the words of one of his most cherished poems. Dad was a friend to all. I can almost hear him reciting it…

THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn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.


New Yesterdays at Amazon.comNY-eBook


About Ol' Big Jim

Ol' Big Jim, has been a storekeeper, an embalmer, a hospital orderly, a medical biller, and through it all, a teller of tall tales. Many of his stories, like his first book, New Yesterdays, are set in his hometown of Piedmont, Alabama. For seven years, he lived in the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Amman, Jordan where he spends his time trying to visit each one of the thousands of Ammani coffee shops and scribbling in his ever-present notebook. These days, you can find him back stateside, still filling notebooks.
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7 Responses to The House by the Side of the Road

  1. Children's Author Caz Greenham says:

    I could feel your emotion for the dad that you miss, Jim, as I read on. Mine has been gone 7 long years, and still feel that pain each and every day. A lovely post, Jim. Your dad would definitely approve.


  2. gwpj says:

    I like your dad, Jim, he was a man after my own heart. 🙂


  3. I never heard that poem before, but if a poem is worth learning then that one surely is. The message is one we should all live by. It speaks volumes, Jim, that your father knew it by heart. Knew it…sounds to me like he lived it, too.


    • Ol' Big Jim says:

      He did live it, David. He was always available with a helping hand to anyone who needed it. Not the flashy kind of help, just quiet assistance. Thanks for coming round!


  4. Topaz says:

    Gorgeous poem – the message is so lovely. It’s so wonderful that your father knew it by heart, and that you’re remembering him by sharing it with us. xx


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