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Sound of vernal showers

On the twinkling grass, Rain-awakened flowers, All that ever was Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass

Teach us, sprite or bird,

What sweet thoughts are thine;
I have never heard Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus hymeneal,

Or triumphant chant, Matched with thine, would be all But an empty vaunt,— A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains Of thy happy strain? What fields, or waves, or mountains? What shapes of sky or plain? What love of thine own kind? What ignorance of pain?

With thy clear, keen joyance

Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance Never came near thee:
Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,

Thou of death must deem Things more true and deep Than we mortals dream, Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

376 THE PRISONER OF CHILLONo

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught; Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn

Hate, and pride, and fear; If we were things born Not to shed a tear, I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all measures

Of delightful sound, Better than all treasures That in books are found, Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness

That thy brain must know, Such harmonious madness From my lips would flow, The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

THE PRISONER OF CH1LLON. — Jfyrmt.

A FABLE.

SONNET ON CHILLON,

Eteknal spirit of the chainless mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty, thou art!
For there thy habitation is the heart, —

The 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.

Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,

And thy sad floor an altar, — for't was 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 God0

My hair is gray, 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 banned and barred, forbidden fare:
But this was for my father's faith
I suffered chains and courted death;
That father perished 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,
Finished as they had begun,

Proud of Persecution's rage;
One in fire, and two in field,
Their belief with blood have sealed,

378 THE PRISONER OF CHILLON.

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 imprisoned 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 drooped and died,
And I lay living by his side.

in.

They chained 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,
Fettered in hand, but pined in heart,
'T was 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,
A^i 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.

I was the eldest of the three,

And, to uphold and cheer the rest,
I ought to do, and did, my best,—

And each did well in his degree.

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 distressed

To see such bird in such a nest;

For he was beautiful as day,—
(When day was beautiful to me
As to young eagles, being free,) —
A polar day, which will not see

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,

And in his natural spirit gay,

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