Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
Switzerland: Chillon
The Prisoner of Chillon
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
(See full text)
*        *        *        *        *
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 imprisoned ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,        5
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,        10
  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,        15
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 drooped and died,        20
And I lay living by his side.
*        *        *        *        *
  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        25
From Chillon’s snow-white battlement,
  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        30
The dark vault lies wherein we lay,
We heard it ripple night and day,
  Sounding o’er our heads it knocked;
And I have felt the winter’s spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high        35
And wanton in the happy sky;
  And then the very rock hath rocked,
  And I have felt it shake unshocked,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.
*        *        *        *        *

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