Friday, May 14, 2021

Pondering things poetic

| November 11, 2020 7:00 AM

A classic G. George Ostrom column from February, 2010

Seek the high places, because truth is up there

Lofty peaks and sheer cliffs are natural things

Like rainbows dancing in the waterfall mist

Or bright glints of gold from eagle wings

The wind is up there to moan and sigh

Or scream like the banshees from hell

‘Neath Glacier’s sky

I’ll tell you what’s there

God…and his flowers…and a grizzly bear.

Some poets live to be very old, while others die quite young. For example, Robert Frost and Edgar Allen Poe. Some remain cool, calm and collected while others are reduced to madness. Again, Frost and Poe. Some remain deeply in touch with reality while others write of things far beyond normal grasp…Frost and Poe. Whatever their character differences, poets seek to pen thoughts, visions and interpretations of the world around us in a manner beyond the vision of casual observers.

There is a touch of the poet in each of us, and that sometimes flusters me greatly. Poetry is much like violin playing, “It’s either enchanting…or awful”; still, I often feel irresistible urges to write a few lines. That is why right here, I’m asking forgiveness of you readers who’ve been exposed to some of that stuff in years gone by. Frankly, only one of those personal poems drew much praise, and that was the one reproduced in Glacier Park’s new centennial book. It’s called “Ballad of an Eighteen Wheeler.” Even there, I didn’t develop my own meter (rhythm), but borrowed from Robert Services’ “The Shooting of Dan McGrew.”

Was recently reading old favorites by better known “rhymers” and found one over a hundred years old, which seems ageless in its common sense. Hopefully most of you will enjoy a bit of this classic by Sam Walter Foss, written in the 1800s:

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 the smiles nor their tears,

Both parts of an infinite plan –

Let me live in a house by the side of the road

And be a friend of 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.

But 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 –

It’s here 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 of man.

That’s it, “A House by the Side of the Road,” wisdom aplenty for each of us. Foss was likely influenced by Greek poet Homer, who wrote in the 8th century, “He was a friend of man, and he lived in a house by the side of the road.” It is eerie to think, perhaps, I was subconsciously influenced by Homer when I started calling this column “The Trailwater.’” Foss’s old literary transgression surely means I can be forgiven for lifting a bit of meter from Robert Service.

As for the opening poem of this column, somehow feel I wrote it years ago, but am not absolutely positive. If one of you readers wrote it, then you can take full credit and of course … all the blame.