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Sonnet to Chillon by Lord Byron


"Sonnet to Chillon" is a poem written by Lord Byron. This sonnet is actually the lead-in to Byrono's much larger poem entitled "The Prisoner of Chillon". The poem was written after touring a castle in which Bonivard (a Genevois monk) was imprisoned.

This sonnet is written as four stanzas (although it is often seen as one stanza in publications). It holds the rhyme scheme ABBABCCB-DEDEDE. Since it is also written in iambic pentameter, it is easy to see that "Sonnet to Chillon" is actually a Petrarchan Sonnet.


Sonnet to Chillon

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 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 '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.

Next: There be None of Beauty's Daughters
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