Poems by
Rassool Jibraeel Snyman

The Hermit

a poem by Rassool Jibraeel Snyman

He stood on a raised rock.
His eyes taking in the scene before him.
Crows flew low in the sky, vultures circled in the upper strata of the heavens.

He bowed his head in sadness.
“The scythe of death cuts large swathes,” he thought to himself.

His eyes found and followed a lamenting woman.

“My husband, my father, my child!
Is there no mercy in the hearts of men?” she shrilled out to the heavens.
The clouds remained silent.
The vultures stared coldly.

She sank to her knees in utter wretchedness.

“Where are you oh Darius, warrior of old”
She cried tearing at her hair and rubbing dust on her face,
“Where are you?”

A little boy with the tear-streaked cheeks stared at the hermit.

” ‘Tis Darius!” he cried in wonder, ‘Tis Darius!

“Darius,” she cried incredulously rising from the dust.
She ran through the village calling to the people, “Darius is here”

“Come all Darius is here!
The gods are merciful!
He will avenge us.
He will make the blood of our enemy flow like the waters of the river Tigris.
He shall make them tear at their hair and gnash their teeth.
He shall make their women widows and their children fatherless.
He shall plant the bones of their youth in the fields and
Sow dark memories of them in history.
He shall.”

The hermit raised his hand silencing her.
The people gathered at his feet.
The throng gazed at the cowled hermit breath held in expectant silence.
He stood high on the rock and spoke thus.

“I was Darius the Slayer
Sword of the Nation
Bringer of Death
Bane to the Enemy
I fought for my people
I slew many in their name
Too many to count
Blood soaked my sandal
And stained my tunic
Battle cries filled my dreams
Piteous cries my nightmares
The smoke of battle my nostrils
I loved it O how I loved it
My enemies feared me
In distant lands they knew my name
And trembled
But that is past now.

I looked into the eyes of youth
Sword raised to dispense death
I glimpsed into its soul
And saw who I was
What beast I had become
All in the name of my people
In the name of my country
In the name of my King

The sword is broken now
The shield rusted
The armour covered in dust

Peace is better than war
Love the armour I now wear
Mercy the only sword I carry.
The Darius of old is no more!”

“Coward!” she screeched and spat in his face, “Darius is dead!”
“Yes,” he said silently to himself “Darius is indeed dead!”
The little boy gently wiped the spittle from his face.
“Darius lives…” said the little boy with the tear stained cheeks, “Darius lives now.”
Thus spake the boy with a wisdom beyond his years!
Thus spake Darius the Hermit!
The body of the hermit was found in a cave that morning.
Murdered by the woman some said.
Murdered by the devil said others.
“Murdered by Fate,” whispered the boy with the tear stained face.
“What is your name boy?” asked the old chief
“Darius” Replied the little boy.