Mary Darby Robinson

Here you will find the Long Poem The Hermit of Mont-Blanc of poet Mary Darby Robinson

The Hermit of Mont-Blanc

High, on the Solitude of Alpine Hills,
O'er-topping the grand imag'ry of Nature,
Where one eternal winter seem'd to reign;
An HERMIT'S threshold, carpetted with moss,
Diversified the Scene. Above the flakes
Of silv'ry snow, full many a modest flow'r
Peep'd through its icy veil, and blushing ope'd
Its variegated hues; The ORCHIS sweet,
The bloomy CISTUS, and the fragrant branch
Of glossy MYRTLE. In his rushy cell,
The lonely ANCHORET consum'd his days,
Unnotic'd, and unblest. In early youth,
Cross'd in the fond affections of his soul
By false Ambition, from his parent home
He, solitary, wander'd; while the Maid
Whose peerless beauty won his yielding heart
Pined in monastic horrors ! Near his sill
A little cross he rear'd, where, prostrate low
At day's pale glimpse, or when the setting Sun
Tissued the western sky with streamy gold,
His Orisons he pour'd, for her, whose hours
Were wasted in oblivion. Winters pass'd,
And Summers faded, slow, unchearly all
To the lone HERMIT'S sorrows: For, still, Love
A dark, though unpolluted altar, rear'd
On the white waste of wonders!
From the peak
Which mark'd his neighb'ring Hut, his humid Eye
Oft wander'd o'er the rich expanse below;
Oft trac'd the glow of vegetating Spring,
The full-blown Summer splendours, and the hue
Of tawny scenes Autumnal: Vineyards vast,
Clothing the upland scene, and spreading wide
The promised tide nectareous; while for him
The liquid lapse of the slow brook was seen
Flashing amid the trees, its silv'ry wave!
Far distant, the blue mist of waters rose
Veiling the ridgy outline, faintly grey,
Blended with clouds, and shutting out the Sun.
The Seasons still revolv'd, and still was he
By all forgotten, save by her, whose breast
Sigh'd in responsive sadness to the gale
That swept her prison turrets. Five long years,
Had seen his graces wither ere his Spring
Of life was wasted. From the social scenes
Of human energy an alien driv'n,
He almost had forgot the face of Man.--
No voice had met his ear, save, when perchance
The Pilgrim wand'rer, or the Goatherd Swain,
Bewilder'd in the starless midnight hour
Implored the HERMIT'S aid, the HERMIT'S pray'rs;
And nothing loath by pity or by pray'r
Was he, to save the wretched. On the top
Of his low rushy Dome, a tinkling bell
Oft told the weary Trav'ller to approach
Fearless of danger. The small silver sound
In quick vibrations echo'd down the dell
To the dim valley's quiet, while the breeze
Slept on the glassy LEMAN. Thus he past
His melancholy days, an alien Man
From all the joys of social intercourse,
Alone, unpitied, by the world forgot!

His Scrip each morning bore the day's repast
Gather'd on summits, mingling with the clouds,
From whose bleak altitude the Eye look'd down
While fast the giddy brain was rock'd by fear.
Oft would he start from visionary rest
When roaming wolves their midnight chorus howl'd,
Or blasts infuriate shatter'd the white cliffs,
While the huge fragments, rifted by the storm,
Plung'd to the dell below. Oft would he sit
In silent sadness on the jutting block
Of snow-encrusted ice, and, shudd'ring mark
(Amid the wonders of the frozen world)
Dissolving pyramids, and threatening peaks,
Hang o'er his hovel, terribly Sublime.

And oft, when Summer breath'd ambrosial gales,
Soft sailing o'er the waste of printless dew
Or twilight gossamer, his pensive gaze
Trac'd the swift storm advancing, whose broad wing
Blacken'd the rushy dome of his low Hut;
While the pale lightning smote the pathless top
Of tow'ring CENIS, scatt'ring high and wide
A mist of fleecy Snow. Then would he hear,
(While MEM'RY brought to view his happier days)
The tumbling torrent, bursting wildly forth
From its thaw'd prison, sweep the shaggy cliff
Vast and Stupendous ! strength'ning as it fell,
And delving, 'mid the snow, a cavern rude!

So liv'd the HERMIT, like an hardy Tree
Plac'd on a mountain's solitary brow,
And destin'd, thro' the Seasons, to endure
Their wond'rous changes. To behold the face
Of ever-varying Nature, and to mark
In each grand lineament, the work of GOD!
And happier he, in total Solitude
Than the poor toil-worn wretch, whose ardent Soul
That GOD has nobly organiz'd, but taught,
For purposes unknown, to bear the scourge
Of sharp adversity, and vulgar pride.
Happier, O ! happier far, than those who feel,
Yet live amongst the unfeeling ! feeding still
The throbbing heart, with anguish, or with Scorn.

One dreary night when Winter's icy breath
Half petrified the scene, when not a star
Gleam'd o'er the black infinity of space,
Sudden, the HERMIT started from his couch
Fear-struck and trembling! Ev'ry limb was shook
With painful agitation. On his cheek
The blanch'd interpr