Page images
PDF
EPUB

SONNET ON CHILLON.

ETERNAL spirit of the chainless mind !

Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,

For there thy habitation is the heartThe heart which love of thee alone can bind; And when thy sons to fetters are consigned

To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,

Their country conquers with their martyrdom, And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.

B 2

Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,

And thy sad floor an altar-for 'twas trod, Until his very steps have left a trace

Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod, By Bonnivard !—May none those marks efface !

For they appeal from tyranny to God.

TIIE

PRISONER OF CHILLON.

A FABLE.

2

I.
My hair is grey, but not with

years,
Nor
grew

it white
In a single night,
As men's have grown from sudden fears :
My limbs are bowed, 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 suffered chains and courted death;

10

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.

20

II.

There are seven pillars of gothic mold,
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprisoned ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;

30 40

Creeping oer 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.

50

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;

« PreviousContinue »