Sam Walter Foss

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sam Walter Foss
Sam Walter Foss, 1858-1911, author, bust portrait, facing left LCCN2005689364 (cropped).jpg
Born(1858-06-19)June 19, 1858
Candia, New Hampshire
DiedFebruary 26, 1911(1911-02-26) (aged 52)
Boston, Massachusetts
Resting placeProvidence, Rhode Island
OccupationLibrarian, poet
Alma materBrown University
Notable worksThe House by the Side of the Road, The Coming American

Sam Walter Foss (June 19, 1858 – February 26, 1911) was an American librarian and poet whose works included The House by the Side of the Road and The Coming American.[1][2][3]

Life and career[edit]

Birthplace of Sam Foss in Candia, New Hampshire: the original "House by the Side of the Road"

Foss was born in rural Candia, New Hampshire, the son of Polly (Hardy) and Dyer Foss.[4] He 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.

Foss is buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence, Rhode Island. He is featured on a New Hampshire historical marker (number 114) along New Hampshire Route 43 in Candia.[5]

Influence[edit]

For many years the opening lines from Foss's The Coming American ("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") were inscribed on a granite wall at the United States Air Force Academy to inspire cadets and officers, but they were removed in 2003 to harmonize in perception to the Air Force Academy's having become coeducational. These words are currently engraved and displayed at Epcot in Orlando, Florida, and at the south end of the Jesse M. Unruh State Office Building in Sacramento, California. These opening lines are inscribed onto the Rocky Mountain Cup trophy, which is contested annually between Major League Soccer teams Real Salt Lake and Colorado Rapids.

Longtime baseball announcer Ernie Harwell alluded to Foss's The House by the Side of the Road 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."

Singer Lamya's song "Empires (Bring Me Men)" takes most of its lyrics from The Coming American.

A recitation of Foss's Two Gods provides the lyrics to the song "A Greater God" by MC 900 Ft. Jesus.

Works[edit]

  • 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 "Read at the annual meeting of the American Library Association, Narragansett Pier, July 6, 1906" (Published separately (details needed), but also included in 'Songs of the Average Man'(1906)
  • Songs of the Average Man (1907)

References[edit]

  1. ^ SeacoastNH.com – Sam Walter Foss was NH Poet Laureate for the Common Man
  2. ^ The Ethical Society of St. Louis: Sam Walter Foss: Minor Poet with a Major Message
  3. ^ Poetry Archives @ eMule.com
  4. ^ Moore, Jacob Bailey; Browne, George Waldo (1893). History of the Town of Candia, Rockingham County, N.H. Manchester, New Hampshire: George W. Browne. p. 520 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "List of Markers by Marker Number" (PDF). nh.gov. New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. November 2, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2019.

External links[edit]