Problem With This Poem? Really?


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THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn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.

Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

Note: I get the part about hospitality, generosity, compassion, involvement and an honest assessment of one's own shortcomings.

But imagine, just imagine...I have invited a weary traveler in, and he has received the best of my table. the favoured chair and foods and drinks, the pleasant non-threatening conversation. But then I bring out the treasured Book and offer this one "the peace that passes all understanding". He turns upon me and challenges, "How dare you proffer this! I have heard of ones like you. All the feigned good wishes and generosity and only really the intention of winning over one more proselyte to your narrow-minded, dogmatic and worn-out religion. I will have none of this; none of your Christ; none of your ultimatums. I will stay not a moment longer."

And for this I should apologize? Nay, rather open the door and say no more. He knew not the time of his visitation. No pleading. No seeker sensitive gimmicks. No stroking of the rebel. No cheapened down Gospel.

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