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And thus together—yet apart,
Fettered 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.
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
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 me
As to young eagles, being free)
A polar day, which will not see
A sunset till its summer's
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,
With tears for nought but others’ ills,
And then they flowed like mountain rills,
Unless he could assuage the woe
Which he abhorr'd to view below.
The other was as pure of mind,
But formed 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 withered 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 followed there the deer and wolf;
To him this dungeon was a gulf, And fettered feet the worst of ills.
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 knockd;
And I have felt the winter's spray
119 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, unshockd,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.
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,
For we were used to hunter's fare,
And for the like had little care :
The milk drawn from the mountain goat
Was changed for water from the moat,
Our bread was such as captive's tears
Have moisten'd many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow men
Like brutes within an iron den :
But what were these to us or him ?
These wasted not his heart or limb;
My brother's soul was of that mould
Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side;
But why delay the truth ?-he died.
I saw, and could not hold his head,
Nor reach his dying hand-nor dead,
Though hard I strove, but strove in vain,
To rend and gnash my bonds in twain.
He died—and they unlocked his chain,
And scoop'd for him a shallow grave
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begg’d them, as a boon, to lay
His corse in dust whereon the day
Might shine it was a foolish thought,
But then within my brain it wrought,
That even in death his freeborn breast
In such a dungeon could not rest.