To a hunter from the city,
Overtaken by the night,
Spake, in tones of tender pity
For himself, an aged wight:
'I have found the world a fountain
Of deceit and Life a sham.
I have taken to the mountain
And a Holy Hermit am.
'Sternly bent on Contemplation,
Far apart from human kind
In the hill my habitation,
In the Infinite my mind.
'Ten long years I've lived a dumb thing,
Growing bald and bent with dole.
Vainly seeking for a Something
To engage my gloomy soul.
'Gentle Pilgrim, while my roots you
Eat, and quaff my simple drink,
Please suggest whatever suits you
As a Theme for me to Think.'
Then the hunter answered gravely:
'From distraction free, and strife,
You could ponder very bravely
On the Vanity of Life.'
'O, thou wise and learned Teacher,
You have solved the Problem well
You have saved a grateful creature
From the agonies of hell.
'Take another root, another
Cup of water: eat and drink.
Now I have a Subject, brother,
Tell me What, and How, to think.'