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THE

PRISONER OF CHILLON.

I.

My hair is gray, but not with years,

Nor grew it white

In a single night,(2)
As men's have grown from sudden fears:
My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil,

But rusted with a vile repose,
For they have been a dungeon's spoil,

And mine has been the fate of those
To whom the goodly earth and air
Are bann'd, and barr'd-forbidden fare;
But this was for my father's faith
I suffer'd chains and courted death;
That father perish'd at the stake
For tenets he would not forsake;
And for the same his lineal race
In darkness found a dwelling-place;

We were seven-who now are one,

Six in youth, and one in age,
Finish'd as they had begun,

Proud of Persecution's rage;
One in fire, and two in field,
Their belief with blood have seal'd;
Dying as their father died,
For the God their foes denied;
Three were in a dungeon cast,
Of whom this wreck is left the last.

II.

There are seven pillars of gothic mould,
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and gray,
Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp:
And in each pillar there is a ring,

And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,

For in these limbs its teeth remain, With marks that will not wear away, Till I have done with this new day, Which now is painful to these eyes Which have not seen the sun so rise For years—I cannot count them o'er, I lost their long and heavy score,

When my last brother droop'd and died, And I lay living by his side.

III.

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They chain'd us each to a column stone,
And we were three-yet, each alone,
We could not move a single pace,
We could not see each other's face,
But with that pale and livid light
That made us strangers in our sight;
And thus together-yet apart,
Fetter'd in hand, but pined in heart;
'Twas still some solace in the dearth
Of the pure elements of earth,
To hearken to each other's speech,
And each turn comforter to each,
With some new hope, or legend old,
Or song heroically bold;
But even these at length grew cold.
Our voices took a dreary tone,
An echo of the dungeon-stone,

A grating sound--not full and free
As they of yore were wont to be:

It might be fancy--but to me
They never sounded like our own.

The youngest, whom my father loved,
Because our mother's brow was given
To him—with eyes as blue as heaven,

For him my soul was sorely moved;
And truly might it be distrest
To see such bird in such a nest;
For he was beautiful as day-

(When day was beautiful to mezi 34:a
As to young eagles, being free) :...5.!!

A polar day, which will not see 37. Vt A sunset till its summer's gone,

Its sleepless summer of long light,
The snow-clad offspring of the sun:

And thus he was as pure and bright, 13
And in his natural spirit gay,
With tears for nought but others' ills,

24 -
And then they flow'd like mountain rills, ***
Unless he could assuage the wo
Which he abhorr'd to view below.

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The other was as pure of mind,
But form'd to combat with his kind;
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
Which 'gainst the world in war had stood,
And perish'd in the foremost rank

With joy:- but not in chains to pine:
His spirit wither'd with their clank,

I saw it silently decline

And so perchance in sooth did mine;
But yet I forced it on to cheer
Those relics of a home so dear.

He was a hunter of the hills,

Had follow'd there the deer and wolf;

To him this dungeon was a gull, And fetter'd feet the worst of ills,

VI.

Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls :
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement (3)

Which round about the wave enthralls ;
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made--and like a living grave.
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay,
We heard it ripple night and day;

Sounding o'er our heads it knock'd;
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;
And then the very rock hath rock'd,

And I have felt it shake, unshock’d,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.

VII.

I said my nearer brother pined,
I said his mighty heart declined,
He loath'd and put away his food;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,

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