On the Castle of Chillon by Lord Byron

Eternal 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 consign’d,
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 ’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.

Summary

In this poem Byron personifies Liberty. Liberty will live forever and people will die or give up their lives fighting for liberty. Liberty cannot be chained; liberty resides in the hearts and minds of freedom fighters. Liberty shines brightly even in the dungeons, the dungeons where prisoners fighting for liberty were kept. No tyrannical chains can bind the hearts of prisoners;their heart can only be chained by liberty.

Oh liberty when your sons are bound by chains and locked in damp, dark, gloomy vaults, their country wins battles in their names and with their sacrifices. Lord Byron wishes to emphasize that the sacrifices of these martyrs are much appreciated by their countrymen. Even the wind helps to spread the names of the martyrs who gave up their lives fighting for freedom.

Byron personifies Chillon: the prison where prisoners were kept is indeed a holy place.People will come from far and near to worship the very floor on which prisoners ceaselessly walked. Bonnivard, the great freedom fighter, walked on these floors for six years. He become feeble and weak because he was chained to a pillar for six years. He walked on these wet floors and his very steps seemed to have left a mark on the floors. The floors have become holy due to the sacrifies of prisoners like Bonnivard. Lord Byron, the poet hopes that no one wipes out the marks of these prisoners. for these marks will remind the viewer (who goes to visit the castle) and the reader (one who will read this poem) of the cruel and unreasonable imprisonment of these men. God alone was a witness to their sufferings.

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