"I Like to Live With Hermits" -- a poem by Nicholas Samaras

This contemporary poem by Nicholas Samaras gathers ancient and modern connotations of eremitism to present the poet's (and reader's) desire to emulate the virutes of the classic hermit. There are allusions to Christianity, but the sentiment is universal, reminiscent of (for example) Jack Kerouac's first visit to T. D. Suzuki in New York to meet the great expositor of Zen Buddhism. In a burst of awe and enthusiasm as he departed, Kerouac exclaimed to Suzuki, "I would like to spend the rest of my life with you!" and Suzuki replied after a moment, "Sometime."

The poem is here reprinted with permission of the author. "I Like to Live with Hermits" was first published in Ploughshares, Winter 2011-12, vol. 37, issue 4, p. 107. All rights reserved to the author.

I Like to Live With Hermits

Let me practice silence with you.

You have an extra room in your hut
and a wooden balcony overlooking a ravine of moonlight.

I can sleep in this bare corner, on the floor-planks
with a blanket and a stone for a pillow.

We can work on our separate projects in each other’s shadow.

Let us develop telepathy, and I will hand you pepper for your soup
without looking up.

We could chant together only in Vespers, and separate
afterward into the gloom.

Let me sit on this rickety balcony, while silver rain falls, the blue air
gone wispy with another century.

Let me live in this corner and you won’t notice me.

Let me be the ghost with eyes, tonsured with the wordless.

Let me practice stillness with you.

Neither of us here.