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April 2016

The Boat At the Side of the River

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The  Boat At the Side of the River

by Barbara J. Hart with deep apologies to Sam Walter Foss

The following is posted with apologies to the late poet, Sam Walter Foss, and those who love his poetry. Here is a link to the original., “The House By the Side of the Road”.

I first heard this poem read by a minister who had a strong Maine accent, and who included the poem as part of his eulogy for my Uncle Clayton. This poem still brings Uncle Clayton to life for me and always makes me smile.

Now, we live on a boat on the Matanzas River where we watch, meet, assist, and befriend those moving north or south. Here is my ode to our current life:

 

The Boat At the Side of the River

There are hermit
souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
We are sailor souls that chart our course

Cross oceans, along rivers, and straits.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         But while I live in my boat at the side of the river
Let me be a friend to my mates.

Let me live in my boat
at the side of the river,
Where the race of sailors go by-
The sailors who are good and the sailors who are bad,IMG_3653
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the armchair seat,
Or scorn each vessel’s traits.
Let me live in my boat at the side of the river
And be a friend to my mates.

I see from my boat
at the side of the river,
At the side of the highway of life,
The mates who press with the ardor of hope,
The mates who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears-
Both parts of the sailors’ fates;-
Let me live in my boat at the side of the river
And be a friend to my mates.IMG_3460

I know there are star-strewn skies ahead
And seas of wearisome height;
That the waves roll on through the long afternoon
And strengthen throughout the night.
But still I rejoice when the sailors rejoice,
And weep with the sailors that moan,
Nor live in my boat at the side of the river
Like a sailor who dwells alone.

Let me live in my
boat at the side of the river
Where the race of sailors 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 armchair seat
Or scorn each crew’s traits-
Let me live in my boat by the side of the river.
And be a friend to my mates.

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