Hermit – a poem by Penny Hope



I am a hireling; garden ornament, fount

of wisdom, morose and pensive resident.

They bring me remnants from their banquets:

roasted partridge; squabs from the dovecote –

small specimens to delight my palate –

but I feel for the birds! I would have birds

singing and nesting in my borrowed beard!


I’ve discarded my trinkets for the silver

of birches, the gold of the sunflower.

And how I adore the humble splendour

of my thatched dwelling, with walls of ochre,

where I may sit or pace at any hour;

my generous and roughly-tailored gown

conceals the contours of my woman’s form.


They have me grow my nails, my hair, abstain

from ablutions; guests will sometimes deign

to come near, get a whiff of me! I remain

aloof and secretly I bathe at night in rain,

permit myself odours of roses, jasmine.

I suffer their stares as they point at me,

as if I’m an ape or a bird in the aviary.


Even in the happy spring, I must incline

my head, as the snowdrops do, while I roam

the lawns. My dull theatre is their diversion.

And so I give them ground-gazing, heaven-

gazing. I sip the dew and eye the moon.

They seek my counsel so I scratch on leaves

like the Sybil; confound them wisely.


With peacocks and peonies I am at home!

Exquisite hours are mine to dream alone.

Thus gladly do I feign a melancholy mien

‘solitary sire’ in my diminutive domain.

And in truth I am a merry gentlewoman:

for I have fashioned a pen from a feather –

all manner of marvels set my quill a-quiver!


©2018 Penny Hope