Sacha Hayes O'Grady
An Anchorite By The Sea - Poem by Sacha Hayes O'Grady
What are these orbs, pervading night,
So far beyond our natural light,
Who hold one’s fate and destiny,
With all their strange astrology.
By moonlight see how Eros runs
Thro’ skies filled with a thousand suns,
Who catches him, who hopes to see,
Whether in heaven, earth or tree?
“Not I’, the anchorite he said,
Pointing his finger at the sky,
‘Fall in love? I’d rather be dead.
I prefer to watch the world go by.”
And with his wrinkled hand he took
With a certain twinkle in his eye,
From out his shelf a leathered book,
From several others that did lie.
‘I did love once, ’ he dryly said;
‘A woman, many years ago.
We were to marry and be wed,
Our love was all that we did know.
She promised me to be my bride,
If I would be her loving groom,
Forever at each other’s side,
We’d even booked the bridal room.’
So thus he spoke, in his own way,
A tome of poetry no less
He handed me, then looked away,
Whose meanings I could only guess.
The tide did lap upon the shore,
I heard the wash of every wave,
And like some captive to its roar,
I felt as though I were a slave.
The book was old, and dull with age,
As if ‘twas printed long ago,
And so I turned each tender page,
In innocence afraid to know
What words may yet confront my eye,
Or there offend with wicked verbs,
Or essay with philosophy,
That ever troubles and disturbs?
There was much passion in his prose,
Which I assume was writ by him,
As wild as any wind which blows,
Yet as I read, the lamp grew dim.
‘I think a storm may come tonight;
The barometer never lies’.
And with his finger tapped it light,
‘There’s trouble brewing in the skies.
I’m sure of it, as you are here,
Even Roman he shan’t go outside’.
And so his dog lay curled in fear,
Remaining by his master’s side.
The anchorite then took some wood
And threw it on the fire,
Sparks mingled where his shadow stood,
And soon the flames grew higher.
‘Will you not share a drink with me?
It seems the squall is almost near.
Here, here, have a drink with me.
This bottle was a vintage year.’
The grape was luscious to my tongue,
And warmed my blood and mind,
Where on the wall, a portrait hung,
Of a woman, whose look was kind.
I had not noticed it before,
Until I’d had a sip of wine,
A second glass my host did pour,
And gladly I did drink the vine.
The old man must have seen my eye
Diverted so toward the frame,
Then looked at me, and with a sigh,
‘Lucia’, said he, ‘was her name.
My own “Dark Lady” I confess,
Her mother was from Italy,
A sweet and gentle soul no less,
Descended from nobility’.
A bottle new did he unveil
From his unending cellar there,
While all the while I heard the gale,
Whose violent wind did fill the air.
Indeed it was a tempest blew,
Around this hermit’s granite home,
His dog did groan as if he knew,
A greater force may breach our dome.
‘Fear not my friend, this house will hold,
It’s stood a century or more,
They say that lightning strikes the bold,
And whom so do the Gods adore.’
He took another sip of wine,
Then went into a separate room,
While I in solitude did pine
In silence til I heard a boom
Of thunder ever strong and fierce,
It shook the roof, and made me start,
The sky the lightning there did pierce,
‘Now Roman, pray, is he not smart?
The finest breed man ever knew,
I bought him from a market place,
Nobody wanted him, ‘tis true,
My purchase based I on his face,
Not seen you more a handsome beast,
He’s been my friend these many years,
For every day he has his feast,
And keeps away the many tears
Which I did weep upon that day,
When she alone, my heart did die,
If yet the wind would blow away
All I did feel in my mind’s eye.’
And so he looked askance from me,
With such pathetic tenderness,
That moved could I not help but be,
And with a certain gentleness,
I gazed at him, with earnest face,
But durst not find the words to say,
How there I felt, nor there to trace
His silence, nor the fire’s ray,
Which was our only source of heat,
The dog lay coiled in a heap,
Wild was the storm, the rain did beat
And pound the roof preventing sleep.
And so we sat a little while
In silence as the thunder roared
Above our heads, where every tile
Protected as the tempest soared.
“There’ll be much carnage on at sea,
And also on the farthest beach.
There’d be a fisherman, or three
Who’s now beyond all safety’s reach.”
He paused a moment, took his cup,
And raised it to the air,
“To all you sailors, I look up,
Through weather foul or fair.”
Then sinking back within his chair,
A wilderness of instant sleep,
No other dungeon seemed more fair
To consciousness of tissue deep.
So were both dog and master there
Beholden to a world of dream,
A kind of symbiotic care,
As candles share another’s gleam.
Again I glanced at that frayed book,
Diverted ever by the gale,
Determined then to take a look,
So as to understand his tale.
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