David Lewis Paget
The Hermit & Martha's Well - Poem by David Lewis Paget
Near the village of Camberwell
And down a dusty track,
There stood an ancient building
Half in ruin, half intact,
They said that a hermit lived in there
Had done for many years,
But never came out in the light of day
Indeed, quite the reverse.
His shadow had often been seen at night
To emerge from the old oak door,
Had wandered into the undergrowth
But no-one knew what for,
Nobody managed to follow
He was cunning, watched his back,
He never came into the open but
Avoided the open track.
They said that he must go hunting
After squirrels, rats and voles,
He must have been eating something
Berries, nuts, or even moles!
I must say, I was intrigued and went
To track him down one night,
I hid myself in the undergrowth
When the Moon was up, and bright.
At twelve o’clock, I heard a creak
As he slid out through the door,
Stopped and listened and looked about,
Set off for his nightly chore,
I followed him at a distance, he
Could move without a sound,
Except for the crackle of twigs he trod
That lay strewn on the ground.
In twenty minutes, following him
I stopped as he took a spell,
I knew that by the direction we
Were headed for Martha’s Well,
And that was the moment a chill began
To creep along my spine,
They said the water from Martha’s Well
Could make you lose your mind!
The Well, surrounded by creepers
Gave off a blue, unearthly glow,
Something reflected from water, lying
Deep in the Well below,
The hermit opened a metal flask
And lowered it down on a string,
Filling it up with the water there,
Then carefully reeling it in.
He put the stopper back on the flask
Then he turned and walked away,
He seemed to have got what he wanted,
What it was, I couldn’t say,
I waited there ‘til he’d gone for good
And I walked up to the Well,
Looked down into that eery light
And I saw a sight from Hell.
A mist was swirling in pale blue light
Reflecting a pale blue Moon,
A face of horror was caught down there
Stared up at me in the gloom,
‘Come down and talk to your Martha, dear,
Come join me in death’s sweet spell,
I’ll wait forever, how long it takes
Come join me in Martha’s Well! ’
I turned and ran, and I didn’t stop
‘Til I saw the oaken door,
I walked up quietly in the dark
And I found the door ajar.
The hermit, down on his knees looked up
To the mist that swirled from the flask,
‘Forgive me Martha, I didn’t mean…’
And she sighed, ‘Too late to ask! ’
‘Too late for sorrow, too late for tears,
Too late for forgiveness now,
Too late for the love I had for you,
For the Devil has marked your brow.
The day you pushed me over the edge
Was the day you sealed the spell,
The only heaven that waits for you
Is the bottom of Martha’s Well.’
11 April 2013
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