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THE TOMB OF THE HERMIT*

Updated: Feb 11



On downs’ the holler,

Back up the hill

They says’ there’s a man

A man and a still

A man Unspoken for many ‘ayear

They say he’s a grieving his wife,

His young wife so dear.

He now lives him alone

No one to bother

No one bothers him.


Not much known of him

A grieving and a grieving

A solo man’s way

O’ keeping to himself

They say

His name was Nick

Orphaned as a child

He lived life a long while

Always up in them hills

Nowhere near

For some forty odd year

Just him without wife

Just a dog named Panner

A hermit for life


A man, dog and still

Some thought were mad

Some thought mean

Just a lonely quiet fella

Not one has idear

What the man

The hermit

Had suffered and seen.

Wit his wife departed,

Just a dog, shack and still

Dog died,

Nick’s life became that more unreal

He went down the mountain

Retrieved a pup from a box

Took him home

To no wife

To live a hermit’s life


Probably drank himself silly

Maby not

Missing his wife

Who knows his suffering,

Suffering for life

No reason for living

‘Cept the dog,

The mountain,

The memories

Of life.


His dog may be a barking

The grieving man’s song

They buried him yesterdie’

Few words were said

For few knew him

The hermit passed

As did his wife before

Both dead in their grave

Some folks took a pity

A’ Burying him nat day.


If you have a crossing

On the Appalachian Trail

Just east of Damascus

Nick Grindstaff lies there,

just pause,

About thirty feet North of the Trail

Give a shout “howdy!”

Perhaps leave a prayer.


His grave’s up there

Right where he’s from

A hundred years hence

Up along the hill some

Near’s a broken down still

Save’ a dog laid out asides

An old man’s grave

Of late, towns folk gathered

To pay their respect

To the fella known as the hermit

They’s hung a crooked sign

With these words etched

In chimney stone

“Lived alone, Died alone”

Here lies

Nick Grindstaff

The Tomb of the Hermit


*In Memory of Nick Grindstaff, the hermit, 12/26/1851 - 7/22/1923

“Tomb of the Hermit” song recorded by Harlan White, 1977; Re-recorded by Kevin Tenbrunsel; Poem by Tenbrunsel, 2023


tom tenbrunsel

Carl Sandburg Writer 2023

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