Sam Walter Foss
Biography of Sam Walter Foss
Sam Walter Foss was a librarian and poet whose works included The House by the Side of the Road and The Coming American.
He was born in rural Candia, New Hampshire. Foss lost his mother at age four, worked on his father's farm and went to school in the winter. He graduated from Brown University in 1882, and would be considered illustrious enough to warrant having his name inscribed on the mace. Beginning in 1898, he served as librarian at the Somerville Public Library in Massachusetts. He married a minister's daughter, with whom he had a daughter and son. Foss used to write a poem a day for the newspapers, and his five volumes of collected poetry are of the frank and homely “common man” variety.
Longtime baseball announcer Ernie Harwell alluded to one of Foss's poems whenever he described a batter taking a called third strike: "He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched it go by."
"Bring me men to match my mountains, Bring me men to match my plains, Men with empires in their purpose, And new eras in their brains."
-- Sam Walter Foss, from "The Coming American", July 4, 1894
These words were inscribed on a granite wall at the United States Air Force Academy to inspire cadets and officers, but they were removed in 2003.
He is buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence, Rhode Island.
Sam Walter Foss's Works:
* Back Country Poems (1892)
* Whiffs from Wild Meadows (1895)
* Dreams in Homespun (1897)
* Songs of War and Peace (1899)
* The Song of the Library Staff (1906)
* Songs of the Average Man (1907)
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Sam Walter Foss Poems
One day, through the primeval wood, A calf walked home, as good calves should; But made a trail all bent askew, A crooked trail as all calves do.
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There are hermit souls that live withdrawn In the place of their self-content; There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
An Informal Prayer -- The Prayer Of Cyru...
“The proper way for a man to pray” said Deacon Lemuel Keyes, “and the only proper attitude is down upon his knees.”
The Ideal Husband To His Wife
We've lived for forty years, dear wife, And walked together side by side, And you to-day are just as dear As when you were my bride.
I They met and they talked where the crossroads meet, Four men from the four winds come,
The Town Of Hay
THE TOWN of Hay is far away, The town of Hay is far; Between its hills of green and gray Its winding meadows are.
'How is business?' asks the young man of the Spirit of the Years; 'Tell me of the modern output from the factories of fate,
The True Bible
What is the world’s true Bible -- ‘tis the highest thought of man, The thought distilled through ages since the dawn of thought began.
The Man From The Crowd
Men seem as alike as the leaves on the trees, As alike as the bees in a swarming of bees
The Coming War
'There will be a war in Europe, Thrones will be rent and overturned,' ('Go and fetch a pail of water,' said his wife).
Toil's Sweet Content
The Man of Questions paused and stood Before the Man of Toil, And asked, 'Are you content, my man, To dig here in the soil?
The Coming Century
If the century gone, as the wise ones attest, Exceeds all the centuries before it, Then the century coming will better its best
The Poster-Painter's Masterpiece
'Let us paint a landscape in June,' he cried; 'A Landscape in high June.' And the poster-painter swelled with pride And trilled a merry tune.
The trumpets were calling me over the hill, And I was a boy and knew nothing of men; But they filled all the vale with their clangorous trill,
One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then two hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.