The Works of Lord Byron, Volume 4
by Lord Byron
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This etext contains only characters from the Latin-1 set. The original work contained a few phrases or lines of Greek text. These are represented here as Beta-code transliterations in brackets, for example [Greek: Oi~moi].

The original text used a few other characters not found in the Latin-1 set. These have been represented using bracket notation, as follows: ē, ī, N, S represent those letters with a macron (bar) above; ĭ represents and i with a breve (curved line). In a few places superscript letters are shown by carets, as in May 27^th^.

An important feature of this edition is its copious footnotes. Footnotes indexed with letters (e.g. [c], [bf]) show variant forms of Byron's text from manuscripts and other sources. Footnotes indexed with arabic numbers (e.g. [17], [221]) are informational. Text in notes and elsewhere in square brackets is the work of editor E. H. Coleridge. Text not in brackets is by Byron himself.

In the original, footnotes were printed at the foot of the page on which they were referenced, and their indices started over on each page. In this etext, footnotes have been collected at the ends of each section, and have been consecutively numbered throughout. Within each block of footnotes are numbers in braces: {321}. These represent the page number on which following notes originally appeared. To find a note that was originally printed on page 27, search for {27}.

In the work "Francesca di Rimini" the original printed lines of the Italian on facing pages opposite the matching lines of Byron's translation. In this etext, the lines of the Italian original have been collected following the translation.

Two minor corrections were made in this etext, both in the note following the title of MANFRED: the year 1348 was corrected to 1834, and the word "Tschairowsky" was corrected to "Tschaikowsky."






Poetry. Vol. IV.





The poems included in this volume consist of thirteen longer or more important works, written at various periods between June, 1816, and October, 1821; of eight occasional pieces (Poems of July-September, 1816), written in 1816; and of another collection of occasional pieces (Poems 1816-1823), written at intervals between November, 1816, and September, 1823. Of this second group of minor poems five are now printed and published for the first time.

The volume is not co-extensive with the work of the period. The third and fourth cantos of Childe Harold (1816-1817), the first five cantos of Don Juan (1818, 1819, 1820), Sardanapalus, The Two Foscari, Cain, and Heaven and Earth (1821), form parts of other volumes, but, in spite of these notable exceptions, the fourth volume contains the work of the poet's maturity, which is and must ever remain famous. Byron was not content to write on one kind of subject, or to confine himself to one branch or species of poetry. He tracked the footsteps now of this master poet, now of another, far outstripping some of his models; soon spent in the pursuit of others. Even in his own lifetime, and in the heyday of his fame, his friendliest critics, who applauded him to the echo, perceived that the "manifold motions" of his versatile and unsleeping talent were not always sanctioned or blessed by his genius. Hence the unevenness of his work, the different values of this or that poem. But, even so, in width of compass, in variety of style, and in measure of success, his achievement was unparalleled. Take such poems as Manfred or Mazeppa, which have left their mark on the literature of Europe; as Beppo, the avant courrier of Don Juan, or the "inimitable" Vision of Judgment, which the "hungry generations" have not trodden down or despoiled of its freshness. Not one of these poems suggests or resembles the other, but each has its crowd of associations, a history and almost a literature of its own.

The whole of this volume was written on foreign soil, in Switzerland or Italy, and, putting aside The Dream, The Monody on the Death of Sheridan, The Irish Avatar, and The Blues, the places, the persons and events, the materiel of the volume as a whole, to say nothing of the style and metre of the poems, are derived from the history and the literature of Switzerland and Southern Europe. An unwilling, at times a vindictive exile, he did more than any other poet or writer of his age to familiarize his own countrymen with the scenery, the art and letters of the Continent, and, conversely, to make the existence of English literature, or, at least, the writings of one Englishman, known to Frenchmen and Italians; to the Teuton and the Slav. If he "taught us little" as prophet or moralist; as a guide to knowledge; as an educator of the general reader—"your British blackguard," as he was pleased to call him—his teaching and influence were "in widest commonalty spread."

Questions with regard to his personality, his morals, his theological opinions, his qualifications as an artist, his grammar, his technique, and so forth, have, perhaps inevitably, absorbed the attention of friend and foe, and the one point on which all might agree has been overlooked, namely, the fact that he taught us a great deal which it is desirable and agreeable to know—which has passed into common knowledge through the medium of his poetry. It is true that he wrote his plays and poems at lightning speed, and that if he was at pains to correct some obvious blunders, he expended but little labour on picking his phrases or polishing his lines; but it is also true that he read widely and studied diligently, in order to prepare himself for an outpouring of verse, and that so far from being a superficial observer or inaccurate recorder, his authority is worth quoting in questions of fact and points of detail.

The appreciation of poetry is a matter of taste, and still more of temperament. Readers cannot be coerced into admiration, or scolded into disapproval and contempt. But if they are willing or can be persuaded to read with some particularity and attention the writings of the illustrious dead, not entirely as partisans, or with the view to dethroning other "Monarchs of Parnassus," they will divine the secret of their fame, and will understand, perhaps recover, the "first rapture" of contemporaries.

Byron sneered and carped at Southey as a "scribbler of all works." He was himself a reader of all works, and without some measure of book-learning and not a little research the force and significance of his various numbers are weakened or obliterated.

It is with the hope of supplying this modicum of book-learning that the Introductions and notes in this and other volumes have been compiled.

I desire to acknowledge, with thanks, the courteous response of Mons. J. Capre, Commandant of the Castle of Chillon, to a letter of inquiry with regard to the "Souterrains de Chillon."

I have to express my gratitude to Sir Henry Irving, to Mr. Joseph Knight, and to Mr. F. E. Taylor, for valuable information concerning the stage representation of Manfred and Marino Faliero.

I am deeply indebted to Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B., and to my friend, Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, for assistance in many important particulars during the construction of the volume.

I must also record my thanks to Mr. Oscar Browning, Mr. Josceline Courtenay, and other correspondents, for information and assistance in points of difficulty.

I have consulted and derived valuable information from the following works: The Prisoner of Chillon, etc., by the late Professor Koelbing; Mazeppa, by Dr. Englaender; Marino Faliero avanti il Dogado and La Congiura (published in the Nuovo Archivio Veneto), by Signor Vittorio Lazzarino; and Selections from the Poetry of Lord Byron, by Dr. F. I. Carpenter of Chicago, U.S.A.

I take the opportunity of expressing my acknowledgments to Miss K. Schlesinger, Miss De Alberti, and to Signor F. Bianco, for their able and zealous services in the preparation of portions of the volume.

On behalf of the publisher I beg to acknowledge the kindness of Captain the Hon. F. L. King Noel, in sanctioning the examination and collation of the MS. of Beppo, now in his possession; and of Mrs. Horace Pym of Foxwold Chace, for permitting the portrait of Sheridan by Sir Joshua Reynolds to be reproduced for this volume.



Preface to Vol. IV. of the Poems

The Prisoner of Chillon.

Introduction to The Prisoner of Chillon 3 Sonnet on Chillon 7 Advertisement 9 The Prisoner of Chillon 13

Poems of July-September, 1816. The Dream.

Introduction to The Dream 31 The Dream. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816 33 Darkness. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816 42 Churchill's Grave. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816 45 Prometheus. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816 48 A Fragment. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 36 51 Sonnet to Lake Leman, First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816 53 Stanzas to Augusta. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816 54 Epistle to Augusta. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 38-41 57 Lines on hearing that Lady Byron was Ill. First published, 1831 63


Introduction to Monody, etc. 69 Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan, Spoken at Drury Lane Theatre, London 71

Manfred: A Dramatic Poem.

Introduction to Manfred 79 Manfred 85

The Lament of Tasso.

Introduction to The Lament of Tasso 139 Advertisement 141 The Lament of Tasso 143

Beppo: A Venetian Story.

Introduction to Beppo 155 Beppo 159

Ode on Venice.

Ode on Venice 193


Introduction to Mazeppa 201 Advertisement 205 Mazeppa 207

The Prophecy of Dante.

Introduction to The Prophecy of Dante 237 Dedication 241 Preface 243 The Prophecy of Dante. Canto the First 247 Canto the Second 255 Canto the Third 261 Canto the Fourth 269

The Morgante Maggiore of Pulci.

Introduction to The Morgante Maggiore 279 Advertisement 283 The Morgante Maggiore. Canto the First 285

Francesca Of Rimini.

Introduction to Francesca of Rimini 313 Francesco of Rimini 317

Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice: an Historical Tragedy.

Introduction to Marino Faliero 325 Preface 331 Marino Faliero 345 Appendix 462

The Vision Of Judgment.

Introduction to The Vision of Judgment 475 Preface 481 The Vision of Judgment 487

Poems 1816-1823.

A very Mournful Ballad on the Siege and Conquest of Alhama. First published, Childe Harold, Canto IV., 1818 529 Sonetto di Vittorelli. Per Monaca 535 Translation from Vittorelli. On a Nun. First published, Childe Harold, Canto IV., 1818 535 On the Bust of Helen by Canova. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 61 536 [Venice. A Fragment.] MS. M 537 So we'll go no more a-roving. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 79 538 [Lord Byron's Verses on Sam Rogers.] Question and Answer. First published, Fraser's Magazine, January, 1833, vol. vii. pp. 82-84 538 The Duel. MS. M 542 Stanzas to the Po. First published, Conversations of Lord Byron, 1824 545 Sonnet on the Nuptials of the Marquis Antonio Cavalli with the Countess Clelia Rasponi of Ravenna. MS. M 547 Sonnet to the Prince Regent. On the Repeal of Lord Edward Fitzgerald's Forfeiture. First published, Letters and Journals, ii. 234, 235 548 Stanzas. First published, New Monthly Magazine, 1832 549 Ode to a Lady whose Lover was killed by a Ball, which at the same time shivered a portrait next his heart. MS. M. 552 The Irish Avatar. First published, Conversations of Lord Byron, 1824 555 Stanzas written on the Road between Florence and Pisa. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 566, not 562 Stanzas to a Hindoo Air. First published, Works of Lord Byron 563 To —— First published, New Monthly Magazine, 1833 564 To the Countess of Blessington. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830 565 Aristomanes. Canto First. MS. D. 566

The Blues: A Literary Eclogue.

Introduction to The Blues 569 The Blues. Eclogue the First 573 Eclogue the Second 580


1. Lord Byron, from an Engraving after a Drawing by G. H. Harlowe

2. The Prison of Bonivard

3. The Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan, from a Portrait in Oils by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., in the Possession of Mrs. Horace Pym of Foxwold Chace

4. The Right Honourable John Hookham Frere, from a Mezzotint by W. W. Barney, after a Picture by John Hoppner, R.A.

5. Robert Southey, Poet Laureate, from a Drawing made in 1811 by John Downman, A.R.A., in the Possession of A. H. Hallam Murray, Esq.



The Prisoner of Chillon, says Moore (Life, p. 320), was written at Ouchy, near Lausanne, where Byron and Shelley "were detained two days in a small inn [Hotel de l'Ancre, now d'Angleterre] by the weather." Byron's letter to Murray, dated June 27 (but? 28), 1816, does not precisely tally with Shelley's journal contained in a letter to Peacock, July 12, 1816 (Prose Works of P. B. Shelley, 1880, ii. 171, sq.); but, if Shelley's first date, June 23, is correct, it follows that the two poets visited the Castle of Chillon on Wednesday, June 26, reached Ouchy on Thursday, June 27, and began their homeward voyage on Saturday, June 29 (Shelley misdates it June 30). On this reckoning the Prisoner of Chillon was begun and finished between Thursday, June 27, and Saturday, June 29, 1816. Whenever or wherever begun, it was completed by July 10 (see Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 364), and was ready for transmission to England by July 25. The MS., in Claire's handwriting, was placed in Murray's hands on October 11, and the poem, with seven others, was published December 5, 1816.

In a final note to the Prisoner of Chillon (First Edition, 1816, p. 59), Byron confesses that when "the foregoing poem was composed he knew too little of the history of Bonnivard to do justice to his courage and virtues," and appends as a note to the "Sonnet on Chillon," "some account of his life ... furnished by the kindness of a citizen of that Republic," i.e. Geneva. The note, which is now entitled "Advertisement," is taken bodily from the pages of a work published in 1786 by the Swiss naturalist, Jean Senebier, who died in 1809. It was not Byron's way to invent imaginary authorities, but rather to give his references with some pride and particularity, and it is possible that this unacknowledged and hitherto unverified "account" was supplied by some literary acquaintance, who failed to explain that his information was common property. Be that as it may, Senebier's prose is in some respects as unhistorical as Byron's verse, and stands in need of some corrections and additions.

Francois Bonivard (there is no contemporary authority for "Bonnivard") was born in 1493. In early youth (1510) he became by inheritance Prior of St. Victor, a monastery outside the walls of Geneva, and on reaching manhood (1514) he accepted the office and the benefice, "la dignite ecclesiastique de Prieur et de la Seigneurie temporelle de St. Victor." A lover of independence, a child of the later Renaissance, in a word, a Genevese, he threw in his lot with a band of ardent reformers and patriots, who were conspiring to shake off the yoke of Duke Charles III. of Savoy, and convert the city into a republic. Here is his own testimony: "Des que j'eus commence de lire l'histoire des nations, je me sentis entraine par un gout prononce pour les Republiques dont j'epousai toujours les interets." Hence, in a great measure, the unrelenting enmity of the duke, who not only ousted him from his priory, but caused him to be shut up for two years at Grolee, Gex, and Belley, and again, after he had been liberated on a second occasion, ordered him, a safe conduct notwithstanding, to be seized and confined in the Castle of Chillon. Here he remained from 1530 to February 1, 1536, when he was released by the Bernese.

For the first two years he was lodged in a room near the governor's quarters, and was fairly comfortable; but a day came when the duke paid a visit to Chillon; and "then," he writes, "the captain thrust me into a cell lower than the lake, where I lived four years. I know not whether he did it by the duke's orders or of his own accord; but sure it is that I had so much leisure for walking, that I wore in the rock which was the pavement a track or little path, as it had been made with a hammer" (Chroniques des Ligues de Stumpf, addition de Bonivard).

After he had been liberated, "par la grace de Dieu donnee a Mess^rs^ de Berne," he returned to Geneva, and was made a member of the Council of the State, and awarded a house and a pension of two hundred crowns a year. A long life was before him, which he proceeded to spend in characteristic fashion, finely and honourably as scholar, author, and reformer, but with little self-regard or self-respect as a private citizen. He was married no less than four times, and not one of these alliances was altogether satisfactory or creditable. Determined "to warm both hands before the fire of life," he was prone to ignore the prejudices and even the decencies of his fellow-citizens, now incurring their displeasure, and now again, as one who had greatly testified for truth and freedom, being taken back into favour and forgiven. There was a deal of human nature in Bonivard, with the result that, at times, conduct fell short of pretension and principle. Estimates of his character differ widely. From the standpoint of Catholic orthodoxy, "C'etait un fort mauvais sujet et un plus mauvais pretre;" and even his captivity, infamous as it was, "ne peut rendre Bonivard interessant" (Notices Genealogiques sur les Famillies Genevoises, par J. A. Galiffe, 1836, iii. 67, sq.); whilst an advocate and champion, the author of the Preface to Les Chroniques de Geneve par Francois de Bonnivard, 1831, tom. i. pt. i. p. xli., avows that "aucun homme n'a fait preuve d'un plus beau caractere, d'un plus parfait desinteressement que l'illustre Prieur de St. Victor." Like other great men, he may have been guilty of "quelques egaremens du coeur, quelques concessions passageres aux devices des sens," but "Peu importe a la posterite les irregularites de leur vie privee" (p. xlviii.).

But whatever may be the final verdict with regard to the morals, there can be no question as to the intellectual powers of the "Prisoner of Chillon." The publication of various MS. tracts, e.g. Advis et Devis de l'ancienne et nouvelle Police de Geneve, 1865; Advis et Devis des Lengnes, etc., 1865, which were edited by the late J. J. Chaponniere, and, after his death, by M. Gustave Revilliod, has placed his reputation as historian, satirist, philosopher, beyond doubt or cavil. One quotation must suffice. He is contrasting the Protestants with the Catholics (Advis et Devis de la Source de Lidolatrie, Geneva, 1856, p. 159): "Et nous disons que les prebstres rongent les mortz et est vray; mais nous faisons bien pys, car nous rongeons les vifz. Quel profit revient aux paveures du dommage des prebstres? Nous nous ventons touttes les deux parties de prescher Christ cruciffie et disons vray, car nous le laissons cruciffie et nud en l'arbre de la croix, et jouons a beaux dez au pied dicelle croix, pour scavoir qui haura sa robe."

For Bonivard's account of his second imprisonment, see Les Chroniques de Geneve, tom. ii. part ii. pp. 571-577; see, too, Notice sur Francois Bonivard, ...par Le Docteur J. J. Chaponniere, Memoires et Documents Publies, par La Societe d'Histoire, etc., de Geneve, 1845, iv. 137-245; Chillon Etude Historique, par L. Vulliemin, Lausanne, 1851; Revue des Deux Mondes, Seconde Periode, vol. 82, Aout, 1869, pp. 682-709; "True Story of the Prisoner of Chillon," Nineteenth Century, May, 1900, No. 279, pp. 821-829, by A. van Amstel (Johannes Christiaan Neuman).

The Prisoner of Chillon was reviewed (together with the Third Canto of Childe Harold) by Sir Walter Scott (Quarterly Review, No. xxxi., October, 1816), and by Jeffrey (Edinburgh Review, No. liv., December, 1816).

With the exception of the Eclectic (March, 1817, N.S., vol. vii. pp. 298-304), the lesser reviews were unfavourable. For instance, the Critical Review (December, 1816, Series V. vol. iv. pp. 567-581) detected the direct but unacknowledged influence of Wordsworth on thought and style; and the Portfolio (No. vi. pp. 121-128), in an elaborate skit, entitled "Literary Frauds," assumed, and affected to prove, that the entire poem was a forgery, and belonged to the same category as The Right Honourable Lord Byron's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, etc.

For extracts from these and other reviews, see Koelbing, Prisoner of Chillon, and Other Poems, Weimar, 1896, excursus i. pp. 3-55.


Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind![1] 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.[2]


When this poem[a] was composed, I was not sufficiently aware of the history of Bonnivard, or I should have endeavoured to dignify the subject by an attempt to celebrate his courage and his virtues. With some account of his life I have been furnished, by the kindness of a citizen of that republic, which is still proud of the memory of a man worthy of the best age of ancient freedom:—

"Francois De Bonnivard, fils de Louis De Bonnivard, originaire de Seyssel et Seigneur de Lunes, naquit en 1496. Il fit ses etudes a Turin: en 1510 Jean Aime de Bonnivard, son oncle, lui resigna le Prieure de St. Victor, qui aboutissoit aux murs de Geneve, et qui formait un benefice considerable....

"Ce grand homme—(Bonnivard merite ce litre par la force de son ame, la droiture de son coeur, la noblesse de ses intentions, la sagesse de ses conseils, le courage de ses demarches, l'etendue de ses connaissances, et la vivacite de son esprit),—ce grand homme, qui excitera l'admiration de tous ceux qu'une vertu heroique peut encore emouvoir, inspirera encore la plus vive reconnaissance dans les coeurs des Genevois qui aiment Geneve. Bonnivard en fut toujours un des plus fermes appuis: pour assurer la liberte de notre Republique, il ne craignit pas de perdre souvent la sienne; il oublia son repos; il meprisa ses richesses; il ne negligea rien pour affermir le bonheur d'une patrie qu'il honora de son choix: des ce moment il la cherit comme le plus zele de ses citoyens; il la servit avec l'intrepidite d'un heros, et il ecrivit son Histoire avec la naivete d'un philosophe et la chaleur d'un patriote.

"Il dit dans le commencement de son Histoire de Geneve, que, des qu'il eut commence de lire l'histoire des nations, il se sentit entraine par son gout pour les Republiques, dont il epousa toujours les interets: c'est ce gout pour la liberte qui lui fit sans doute adopter Geneve pour sa patrie....

"Bonnivard, encore jeune, s'annonca hautement comme le defenseur de Geneve contre le Duc de Savoye et l'Eveque....

"En 1519, Bonnivard devient le martyr de sa patrie: Le Duc de Savoye etant entre dans Geneve avec cinq cent hommes, Bonnivard craint le ressentiment du Duc; il voulut se retirer a Fribourg pour en eviter les suites; mais il fut trahi par deux hommes qui l'accompagnaient, et conduit par ordre du Prince a Grolee, ou il resta prisonnier pendant deux ans. Bonnivard etait malheureux dans ses voyages: comme ses malheurs n'avaient point ralenti son zele pour Geneve, il etait toujours un ennemi redoutable pour ceux qui la menacaient, et par consequent il devait etre expose a leurs coups. Il fut rencontre en 1530 sur le Jura par des voleurs, qui le depouillerent, et qui le mirent encore entre les mains du Duc de Savoye: ce Prince le fit enfermer dans le Chateau de Chillon, ou il resta sans etre interroge jusques en 1536; il fut alors delivre par les Bernois, qui s'emparerent du Pays-de-Vaud.

"Bonnivard, en sortant de sa captivite, eut le plaisir de trouver Geneve libre et reformee: la Republique s'empressa de lui temoigner sa reconnaissance, et de le dedommager des maux qu'il avoit soufferts; elle le recut Bourgeois de la ville au mois de Juin, 1536; elle lui donna la maison habitee autrefois par le Vicaire-General, et elle lui assigna une pension de deux cent ecus d'or tant qu'il sejournerait a Geneve. Il fut admis dans le Conseil des Deux-Cent en 1537.

"Bonnivard n'a pas fini d'etre utile: apres avoir travaille a rendre Geneve libre, il reussit a la rendre tolerante. Bonnivard engagea le Conseil a accorder [aux ecclesiastiques et aux paysans] un tems suffisant pour examiner les propositions qu'on leur faisait; il reussit par sa douceur: on preche toujours le Christianisme avec succes quand on le preche avec charite....

"Bonnivard fut savant: ses manuscrits, qui sont dans la bibliotheque publique, prouvent qu'il avait bien lu les auteurs classiques Latins, et qu'il avait approfondi la theologie et l'histoire. Ce grand homme aimait les sciences, et il croyait qu'elles pouvaient faire la gloire de Geneve; aussi il ne negligea rien pour les fixer dans cette ville naissante; en 1551 il donna sa bibliotheque au public; elle fut le commencement de notre bibliotheque publique; et ces livres sont en partie les rares et belles editions du quinzieme siecle qu'on voit dans notre collection. Enfin, pendant la meme annee, ce bon patriote institua la Republique son heritiere, a condition qu'elle employerait ses biens a entretenir le college dont on projettait la fondation.

"Il parait que Bonnivard mourut en 1570; mais on ne peut l'assurer, parcequ'il y a une lacune dans le Necrologe depuis le mois de Juillet, 1570, jusques en 1571."—[Histoire Litteraire de Geneve, par Jean Senebier (1741-1809), 1786, i. 131-137.]



My hair is grey, but not with years, Nor grew it white In a single night,[3] As men's have grown from sudden fears: My limbs are bowed, though not with toil, But rusted with a vile repose,[b] 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,[4] and barred—forbidden fare; 10 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,[5] Six in youth, and one in age, Finished as they had begun, Proud of Persecution's rage;[c] 20 One in fire, and two in field, Their belief with blood have sealed, 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.


There are seven pillars of Gothic mould,[6] In Chillon's dungeons deep and old, There are seven columns, massy and grey, Dim with a dull imprisoned ray, 30 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:[7] And in each pillar there is a ring,[8] 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, 40 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.


They chained us each to a column stone, And we were three—yet, each alone; We could not move a single pace, 50 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 joined in heart,[d] '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, 60 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 70 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;[9] For he was beautiful as day— (When day was beautiful to me 80 As to young eagles, being free)— A polar day, which will not see[10] 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, With tears for nought but others' ills, And then they flowed like mountain rills, Unless he could assuage the woe 90 Which he abhorred 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 perished 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: 100 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 110 From Chillon's snow-white battlement,[11] Which round about the wave inthralls: A double dungeon wall and wave Have made—and like a living grave. Below the surface of the lake[12] 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 120 And wanton in the happy sky; And then the very rock hath rocked, And I have felt it shake, unshocked,[13] 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 loathed and put away his food; It was not that 'twas coarse and rude, For we were used to hunter's fare, 130 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 captives' tears Have moistened 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 140 Which in a palace had grown cold, Had his free breathing been denied The range of the steep mountain's side;[14] But why delay the truth?—he died.[e] 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.[f] He died—and they unlocked his chain, And scooped for him a shallow grave[15] 150 Even from the cold earth of our cave. I begged 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,[16] That even in death his freeborn breast In such a dungeon could not rest. I might have spared my idle prayer— They coldly laughed—and laid him there: The flat and turfless earth above 160 The being we so much did love; His empty chain above it leant, Such Murder's fitting monument!


But he, the favourite and the flower, Most cherished since his natal hour, His mother's image in fair face, The infant love of all his race, His martyred father's dearest thought,[17] My latest care, for whom I sought To hoard my life, that his might be 170 Less wretched now, and one day free; He, too, who yet had held untired A spirit natural or inspired— He, too, was struck, and day by day Was withered on the stalk away.[18] Oh, God! it is a fearful thing To see the human soul take wing In any shape, in any mood:[19] I've seen it rushing forth in blood, I've seen it on the breaking ocean 180 Strive with a swoln convulsive motion, I've seen the sick and ghastly bed Of Sin delirious with its dread: But these were horrors—this was woe Unmixed with such—but sure and slow: He faded, and so calm and meek, So softly worn, so sweetly weak, So tearless, yet so tender—kind, And grieved for those he left behind; With all the while a cheek whose bloom 190 Was as a mockery of the tomb, Whose tints as gently sunk away As a departing rainbow's ray; An eye of most transparent light, That almost made the dungeon bright; And not a word of murmur—not A groan o'er his untimely lot,— A little talk of better days, A little hope my own to raise, For I was sunk in silence—lost 200 In this last loss, of all the most; And then the sighs he would suppress Of fainting Nature's feebleness, More slowly drawn, grew less and less: I listened, but I could not hear; I called, for I was wild with fear; I knew 'twas hopeless, but my dread Would not be thus admonished; I called, and thought I heard a sound— I burst my chain with one strong bound, 210 And rushed to him:—I found him not, I only stirred in this black spot, I only lived, I only drew The accursed breath of dungeon-dew; The last, the sole, the dearest link Between me and the eternal brink, Which bound me to my failing race, Was broken in this fatal place. One on the earth, and one beneath— My brothers—both had ceased to breathe: 220 I took that hand which lay so still, Alas! my own was full as chill; I had not strength to stir, or strive, But felt that I was still alive— A frantic feeling, when we know That what we love shall ne'er be so. I know not why I could not die,[20] I had no earthly hope—but faith, And that forbade a selfish death. 230


What next befell me then and there I know not well—I never knew— First came the loss of light, and air, And then of darkness too: I had no thought, no feeling—none— Among the stones I stood a stone,[21] And was, scarce conscious what I wist, As shrubless crags within the mist; For all was blank, and bleak, and grey; It was not night—it was not day; 240 It was not even the dungeon-light, So hateful to my heavy sight, But vacancy absorbing space, And fixedness—without a place; There were no stars—no earth—no time— No check—no change—no good—no crime— But silence, and a stirless breath Which neither was of life nor death; A sea of stagnant idleness, Blind, boundless, mute, and motionless! 250


A light broke in upon my brain,— It was the carol of a bird; It ceased, and then it came again, The sweetest song ear ever heard, And mine was thankful till my eyes Ran over with the glad surprise, And they that moment could not see I was the mate of misery; But then by dull degrees came back My senses to their wonted track; 260 I saw the dungeon walls and floor Close slowly round me as before, I saw the glimmer of the sun Creeping as it before had done, But through the crevice where it came That bird was perched, as fond and tame, And tamer than upon the tree; A lovely bird, with azure wings,[22] And song that said a thousand things, And seemed to say them all for me! 270 I never saw its like before, I ne'er shall see its likeness more: It seemed like me to want a mate, But was not half so desolate,[23] And it was come to love me when None lived to love me so again, And cheering from my dungeon's brink, Had brought me back to feel and think. I know not if it late were free, Or broke its cage to perch on mine, 280 But knowing well captivity, Sweet bird! I could not wish for thine! Or if it were, in winged guise, A visitant from Paradise; For—Heaven forgive that thought! the while Which made me both to weep and smile— I sometimes deemed that it might be My brother's soul come down to me;[24] But then at last away it flew, And then 'twas mortal well I knew, 290 For he would never thus have flown— And left me twice so doubly lone,— Lone—as the corse within its shroud, Lone—as a solitary cloud,[25] A single cloud on a sunny day, While all the rest of heaven is clear, A frown upon the atmosphere, That hath no business to appear[26] When skies are blue, and earth is gay.


A kind of change came in my fate, 300 My keepers grew compassionate; I know not what had made them so, They were inured to sights of woe, But so it was:—my broken chain With links unfastened did remain, And it was liberty to stride Along my cell from side to side, And up and down, and then athwart, And tread it over every part; And round the pillars one by one, 310 Returning where my walk begun, Avoiding only, as I trod, My brothers' graves without a sod; For if I thought with heedless tread My step profaned their lowly bed, My breath came gaspingly and thick, And my crushed heart felt blind and sick.


I made a footing in the wall, It was not therefrom to escape, For I had buried one and all, 320 Who loved me in a human shape; And the whole earth would henceforth be A wider prison unto me:[27] No child—no sire—no kin had I, No partner in my misery; I thought of this, and I was glad, For thought of them had made me mad; But I was curious to ascend To my barred windows, and to bend Once more, upon the mountains high, 330 The quiet of a loving eye.[28]


I saw them—and they were the same, They were not changed like me in frame; I saw their thousand years of snow On high—their wide long lake below,[g] And the blue Rhone in fullest flow;[29] I heard the torrents leap and gush O'er channelled rock and broken bush; I saw the white-walled distant town,[30] And whiter sails go skimming down; 340 And then there was a little isle,[31] Which in my very face did smile, The only one in view; A small green isle, it seemed no more,[32] Scarce broader than my dungeon floor, But in it there were three tall trees, And o'er it blew the mountain breeze, And by it there were waters flowing, And on it there were young flowers growing, Of gentle breath and hue. 350 The fish swam by the castle wall, And they seemed joyous each and all;[33] The eagle rode the rising blast, Methought he never flew so fast As then to me he seemed to fly; And then new tears came in my eye, And I felt troubled—and would fain I had not left my recent chain; And when I did descend again, The darkness of my dim abode 360 Fell on me as a heavy load; It was as is a new-dug grave, Closing o'er one we sought to save,— And yet my glance, too much opprest, Had almost need of such a rest.


It might be months, or years, or days— I kept no count, I took no note— I had no hope my eyes to raise, And clear them of their dreary mote; At last men came to set me free; 370 I asked not why, and recked not where; It was at length the same to me, Fettered or fetterless to be, I learned to love despair. And thus when they appeared at last, And all my bonds aside were cast, These heavy walls to me had grown A hermitage—and all my own![34] And half I felt as they were come To tear me from a second home: 380 With spiders I had friendship made, And watched them in their sullen trade, Had seen the mice by moonlight play, And why should I feel less than they? We were all inmates of one place, And I, the monarch of each race, Had power to kill—yet, strange to tell! In quiet we had learned to dwell;[h] My very chains and I grew friends, So much a long communion tends 390 To make us what we are:—even I Regained my freedom with a sigh.


[1] {7}[In the first draft, the sonnet opens thus—

"Beloved Goddess of the chainless mind! Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art, Thy palace is within the Freeman's heart, Whose soul the love of thee alone can bind; And when thy sons to fetters are consign'd— To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom, Thy joy is with them still, and unconfined, Their country conquers with their martyrdom."

Ed. 1832.]

[2] [Compare—

"I appeal from her [sc. Florence] to Thee."

Proph. of Dante, Canto I. line 125.]

[a] {8} When the foregoing.... Some account of his life will be found in a note appended to the Sonnet on Chillon, with which I have been furnished, etc.—[Notes, The Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816, p. 59.]

[3] {13} Ludovico Sforza, and others.—The same is asserted of Marie Antoinette's, the wife of Louis the Sixteenth, though not in quite so short a period. Grief is said to have the same effect; to such, and not to fear, this change in hers was to be attributed.

[It has been said that the Queen's hair turned grey during the return from Varennes to Paris; but Carlyle (French Revolution, 1839, i. 182) notes that as early as May 4, 1789, on the occasion of the assembly of the States-General, "Her hair is already grey with many cares and crosses."

Compare "Thy father's beard is turned white with the news" (Shakespeare, I Henry IV., act ii. sc. 4, line 345); and—

"For deadly fear can time outgo, And blanch at once the hair."

Marmion, Canto I. stanza xxviii. lines 19, 20.]

[b] But with the inward waste of grief.—[MS.]

[4] [The N. Engl. Dict., art. "Ban," gives this passage as the earliest instance of the use of the verb "to ban" in the sense of "to interdict, to prohibit." Exception was taken to this use of the word in the Crit. Rev., 1817, Series V. vol. iv. p. 571.]

[5] {14}[Compare the epitaph on the monument of Richard Lord Byron, in the chancel of Hucknall-Torkard Church, "Beneath in a vault is interred the body of Richard Lord Byron, who with the rest of his family, being seven brothers," etc. (Elze's Life of Lord Byron, p. 4, note 1).

Compare, too, Churchill's Prophecy of Famine, lines 391, 392—

"Five brothers there I lost, in manhood's pride, Two in the field and three on gibbets died."

The Bonivard of history had but two brothers, Amblard and another.]

[c] Braving rancour—chains—and rage.—[MS.]

[6] ["This is really so: the loop-holes that are partly stopped up are now but long crevices or clefts, but Bonivard, from the spot where he was chained, could, perhaps, never get an idea of the loveliness and variety of radiating light which the sunbeam shed at different hours of the day.... In the morning this light is of luminous and transparent shining, which the curves of the vaults send back all along the hall. Victor Hugo (Le Rhin, ... Hachette, 1876, I. iii. pp. 123-131) describes this ... 'Le phenomene de la grotto d'azur s'accomplit dans le souterrain de Chillon, et le lac de Geneve n'y reussit pas moins bien que la Mediterranee.' During the afternoon the hall assumes a much deeper and warmer colouring, and the blue transparency of the morning disappears; but at eventide, after the sun has set behind the Jura, the scene changes to the deep glow of fire ..."—Guide to the Castle of Chillon, by A. Naef, architect, 1896, pp, 35, 36.]

[7] {15}[Compare—

"One little marshy spark of flame."

Def. Trans., Part I. sc. I.

Koelbing notes six other allusions in Byron's works to the "will-o'-the-wisp," but omits the line in the "Incantation" (Manfred, act i. sc. I, line 195)—

"And the wisp on the morass,"

which the Italian translator would have rendered "bundle of straw" (see Letter to Hoppner, February 28, 1818, Letters, 1900, iv. 204, note 2, et post p. 92, note 1).]

[8] [This " not exactly so; the third column does not seem to have ever had a ring, but the traces of these rings are very visible in the two first columns from the entrance, although the rings have been removed; and on the three last we find the rings still riveted on the darkest side of the pillars where they face the rock, so that the unfortunate prisoners chained there were even bereft of light.... The fifth column is said to be the one to which Bonivard was chained during four years. Byron's name is carved on the southern side of the third column ... on the seventh tympanum, at about 1 metre 45 from the lower edge of the shaft." Much has been written for and against the authenticity of this inscription, which, according to M. Naef, the author of Guide, was carved by Byron himself, "with an antique ivory-mounted stiletto, which had been discovered in the duke's room."—Guide, etc., pp. 39-42. The inscription was in situ as early as August 22, 1820, as Mr. Richard Edgcumbe points out (Notes and Queries, Series V. xi. 487).]

[d] {16}—pined in heart.—[Editions 1816-1837.]

[9] [Compare, for similarity of sound—

"Thou tree of covert and of rest For this young Bird that is distrest."

Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle, by W. Wordsworth, Works, 1889, p. 364.

Compare, too—

"She came into the cave, but it was merely To see her bird reposing in his nest."

Don Juan, Canto II. stanza clxviii. lines 3, 4.]

[10] {17}[Compare—

"Those polar summers, all sun, and some ice."

Don Juan, Canto XII. stanza lxxii. line 8.]

[11] {18} [Ruskin (Modern Painters, Part IV. chap. i. sect. 9, "Touching the Grand Style," 1888, iii. 8, 9) criticizes these five lines 107-111, and points out that, alike in respect of accuracy and inaccuracy of detail, they fulfil the conditions of poetry in contradistinction to history. "Instead," he concludes, "of finding, as we expected, the poetry distinguished from the history by the omission of details, we find it consisting entirely in the addition of details; and instead of it being characterized by regard only of the invariable, we find its whole power to consist in the clear expression of what is singular and particular!"]

[12] The Chateau de Chillon is situated between Clarens and Villeneuve, which last is at one extremity of the Lake of Geneva. On its left are the entrances of the Rhone, and opposite are the heights of Meillerie and the range of Alps above Boveret and St. Gingo. Near it, on a hill behind, is a torrent: below it, washing its walls, the lake has been fathomed to the depth of 800 feet, French measure: within it are a range of dungeons, in which the early reformers, and subsequently prisoners of state, were confined. Across one of the vaults is a beam black with age, on which we were informed that the condemned were formerly executed. In the cells are seven pillars, or, rather, eight, one being half merged in the wall; in some of these are rings for the fetters and the fettered: in the pavement the steps of Bonnivard have left their traces. He was confined here several years. It is by this castle that Rousseau has fixed the catastrophe of his Heloise, in the rescue of one of her children by Julie from the water; the shock of which, and the illness produced by the immersion, is the cause of her death. The chateau is large, and seen along the lake for a great distance. The walls are white.

["Le chateau de Chillon ... est situe dans le lac sur un rocher qui forme une presqu'isle, et autour du quel j'ai vu sonder a plus de cent cinquante brasses qui font pres de huit cents pieds, sans trouver le fond. On a creuse dans ce rocher des caves et des cuisines au-dessous du niveau de l'eau, qu'on y introduit, quand on veut, par des robinets. C'est-la que fut detenu six ans prisonnier Francois Bonnivard ... homme d'un merite rare, d'une droiture et d'une fermete a toute epreuve, ami de la liberte, quoique Savoyard, et tolerant quoique pretre," etc. (La Nouvelle Heloise, par J. J. Rousseau, partie vi. Lettre 8, note (1); Oeuvres completes, 1836, ii. 356, note 1).

With Byron's description of Chillon, compare that of Shelley, contained in a letter to Peacock, dated July 12, 1816 (Prose Works of P. B. Shelley, 1880, ii. 171, sq.). The belief or tradition that Bonivard's prison is "below the surface of the lake," for which Shelley as well as Rousseau is responsible, but which Byron only records in verse, may be traced to a statement attributed to Bonivard himself, who says (Memoires, etc., 1843, iv. 268) that the commandant thrust him "en unes croctes desquelles le fond estoit plus bas que le lac sur lequel Chillon estoit citue." As a matter of fact, "the level [of les souterrains] is now three metres higher than the level of the water, and even if we take off the difference arising from the fact that the level of the lake was once much higher, and that the floor of the halls has been raised, still the halls must originally have been built about two metres above the surface of the lake."—Guide, etc., pp. 28, 29.]

[13] {19}[The "real Bonivard" might have indulged in and, perhaps, prided himself on this feeble and irritating paronomasy; but nothing can be less in keeping with the bearing and behaviour of the tragic and sententious Bonivard of the legend.]

[14] [Compare—

"...I'm a forester and breather Of the steep mountain-tops."

Werner, act iv. sc. 1.]

[e] But why withhold the blow?—he died. [MS.]

[f] {20}To break or bite——.—[MS.]

[15] [Compare "With the aid of Suleiman's ataghan and my own sabre, we scooped a shallow grave upon the spot which Darvell had indicated" (A fragment of a Novel by Byron, Letters, 1899, iii. Appendix IX. p. 452).]

[16] [Compare—

"And to be wroth with one we love Doth work like madness in the brain."

Christabel, by S. T. Coleridge, part ii. lines 412, 413.]

[17] [It is said that his parents handed him over to the care of his uncle, Jean-Aime Bonivard, when he was still an infant, and it is denied that his father was "literally put to death."]

[18] {21}[Koelbing quotes parallel uses of the same expression in Werner, act iv. sc. 1; Churchill's The Times, line 341, etc.; but does not give the original—

"But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd, Than that which, withering on the virgin-thorn," etc.

Midsummer Night's Dream, act i. sc. i, lines 76, 77.]

[19] [Compare—

"The first, last look of Death revealed."

The Giaour, line 89, note 2.

Byron was a connoisseur of the incidents and by-play of "sudden death," so much so that Goethe was under the impression that he had been guilty of a venial murder (see his review of Manfred in his paper Kunst and Alterthum, Letters, 1901, v. 506, 507). A year after these lines were written, when he was at Rome (Letter to Murray, May 30, 1817), he saw three robbers guillotined, and observed himself and them from a psychological standpoint.

"The ghastly bed of Sin" (lines 182, 183) may be a reminiscence of the death-bed of Lord Falkland (English Bards, etc., lines 680-686; Poetical Works, 1898, i. 351, note 2).]

[20] {22}[Compare—

"And yet I could not die."

Ancient Mariner, Part IV. line 262.]

[21] {23}[Compare—

"I wept not; so all stone I felt within."

Dante's Inferno, xxxiii. 47 (Cary's translation).]

[22] {24}[Compare "Song by Glycine"—

"A sunny shaft did I behold, From sky to earth it slanted; And poised therein a bird so bold— Sweet bird, thou wert enchanted," etc.

Zapolya, by S. T. Coleridge, act ii. sc. 1.]

[23] [Compare—

"When Ruth was left half desolate, Her Father took another Mate."

Ruth, by W. Wordsworth, Works, 1889, p. 121.]

[24] ["The souls of the blessed are supposed by some of the Mahommedans to animate green birds in the groves of Paradise."—Note to Southey's Thalaba, bk. xi. stanza 5, line 13.]

[25] {25}[Compare—

"I wandered lonely as a cloud."

Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 205.]

[26] [Compare—

"Yet some did think that he had little business here."

Ibid., p. 183.

Compare, too, The Dream, line 166, vide post, p. 39—

"What business had they there at such a time?"]

[27] {26}[Compare—

"He sighed, and turned his eyes, because he knew 'Twas but a larger jail he had in view."

Dryden, Palamon and Arcite, bk. i. lines 216, 217.

Compare, too—

"An exile—— Who has the whole world for a dungeon strong."

Prophecy of Dante, iv. 131, 132.]

[28] [Compare—

"The harvest of a quiet eye."

A Poet's Epitaph, line 51, Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 116.]


I saw them with their lake below, And their three thousand years of snow.—[MS.]

[29] [This, according to Ruskin's canon, may be a poetical inaccuracy. The Rhone is blue below the lake at Geneva, but "les embouchures" at Villeneuve are muddy and discoloured.]

[30] [Villeneuve.]

[31] Between the entrances of the Rhone and Villeneuve, not far from Chillon, is a very small island [Ile de Paix]; the only one I could perceive in my voyage round and over the lake, within its circumference. It contains a few trees (I think not above three), and from its singleness and diminutive size has a peculiar effect upon the view.

[32] {27}[Compare—

"Of Silver How, and Grasmere's peaceful lake, And one green island."

Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 220.]

[33] [Compare the Ancient Mariner on the water-snakes—

"O happy living things! no tongue Their beauty might declare,"

Ancient Mariner, Part IV. lines 282, 283.

There is, too, in these lines (352-354), as in many others, an echo of Wordsworth. In the Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle it is told how the "two undying fish" of Bowscale Tarn, and the "eagle lord of land and sea" ministered to the shepherd-lord. It was no wonder that the critics of 1816 animadverted on Byron's "communion" with the Lakers. "He could not," writes a Critical Reviewer (Series V. vol. iv. pp. 567-581), "carry many volumes on his tour, but among the few, we will venture to predict, are found the two volumes of poems lately republished by Mr. Wordsworth.... Such is the effect of reading and enjoying the poetry of Mr. W., to whose system (ridiculed alike by those who could not, and who would not understand it) Lord Byron, it is evident, has become a tardy convert, and of whose merits in the poems on our table we have a silent but unequivocal acknowledgment."]

[34] {28}[Compare the well-known lines in Lovelace's "To Althea—From Prison"—

"Minds innocent and quiet take That for an hermitage."]

[h] Here follows in the MS.—

Nor stew I of my subjects one— / hath so little What sovereign done? yet so much hath /





The Dream, which was written at Diodati in July, 1816 (probably towards the end of the month; see letters to Murray and Rogers, dated July 22 and July 29), is a retrospect and an apology. It consists of an opening stanza, or section, on the psychology of dreams, followed by some episodes or dissolving views, which purport to be the successive stages of a dream. Stanzas ii. and iii. are descriptive of Annesley Park and Hall, and detail two incidents of Byron's boyish passion for his neighbour and distant cousin, Mary Anne Chaworth. The first scene takes place on the top of "Diadem Hill," the "cape" or rounded spur of the long ridge of Howatt Hill, which lies about half a mile to the south-east of the hall. The time is the late summer or early autumn of 1803. The "Sun of Love" has not yet declined, and the "one beloved face" is still shining on him; but he is beginning to realize that "her sighs are not for him," that she is out of his reach. The second scene, which belongs to the following year, 1804, is laid in the "antique oratory" (not, as Moore explains, another name for the hall, but "a small room built over the porch, or principal entrance of the hall, and looking into the courtyard"), and depicts the final parting. His doom has been pronounced, and his first impulse is to pen some passionate reproach, but his heart fails him at the sight of the "Lady of his Love," serene and smiling, and he bids her farewell with smiles on his lips, but grief unutterable in his heart.

Stanza iv. recalls an incident of his Eastern travels—a halt at noonday by a fountain on the route from Smyrna to Ephesus (March 14, 1810), "the heads of camels were seen peeping above the tall reeds" (see Travels in Albania, 1858, ii. 59.).

The next episode (stanza v.) depicts an imaginary scene, suggested, perhaps, by some rumour or more definite assurance, and often present to his "inward eye"—the "one beloved," the mother of a happy family, but herself a forsaken and unhappy wife.

He passes on (stanza vi.) to his marriage in 1815, his bride "gentle" and "fair," but not the "one beloved,"—to the wedding day, when he stood before an altar, "like one forlorn," confused by the sudden vision of the past fulfilled with Love the "indestructible"!

In stanza vii. he records and analyzes the "sickness of the soul," the so-called "phrenzy" which had overtaken and changed the "Lady of his Love;" and, finally (stanza viii.), he lays bare the desolation of his heart, depicting himself as at enmity with mankind, but submissive to Nature, the "Spirit of the Universe," if, haply, there may be "reserved a blessing" even for him, the rejected and the outlaw.

Moore says (Life, p. 321) that The Dream cost its author "many a tear in writing"—being, indeed, the most mournful as well as picturesque "story of a wandering life" that ever came from the pen and heart of man. In his Real Lord Byron (i. 284) Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson maintains that The Dream "has no autobiographical value.... A dream it was, as false as dreams usually are." The character of the poet, as well as the poem itself, suggests another criticism. Byron suffered or enjoyed vivid dreams, and, as poets will, shaped his dreams, consciously and of set purpose, to the furtherance of his art, but nothing concerning himself interested him or awoke the slumbering chord which was not based on actual fact. If the meeting on the "cape crowned with a peculiar diadem," and the final interview in the "antique oratory" had never happened or happened otherwise; if he had not "quivered" during the wedding service at Seaham; if a vision of Annesley and Mary Chaworth had not flashed into his soul,—he would have taken no pleasure in devising these incidents and details, and weaving them into a fictitious narrative. He took himself too seriously to invent and dwell lovingly on the acts and sufferings of an imaginary Byron. The Dream is "picturesque" because the accidents of the scenes are dealt with not historically, but artistically, are omitted or supplied according to poetical licence; but the record is neither false, nor imaginary, nor unusual. On the other hand, the composition and publication of the poem must be set down, if not to malice and revenge, at least to the preoccupancy of chagrin and remorse, which compelled him to take the world into his confidence, cost what it might to his own self-respect, or the peace of mind and happiness of others.

For an elaborate description of Annesley Hall and Park, written with a view to illustrate The Dream, see "A Byronian Ramble," Part II., the Athenaeum, August 30, 1834. See, too, an interesting quotation from Sir Richard Phillips' unfinished Personal Tour through the United Kingdom, published in the Mirror, 1828, vol. xii. p. 286; Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, by Washington Irving, 1835, p. 191, seq.; The House and Grave of Byron, 1855; and an article in Lippincott's Magazine, 1876, vol. xviii. pp. 637, seq.



Our life is twofold: Sleep hath its own world, A boundary between the things misnamed Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world, And a wide realm of wild reality, And dreams in their developement have breath, And tears, and tortures, and the touch of Joy; They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts, They take a weight from off our waking toils, They do divide our being;[35] they become A portion of ourselves as of our time, 10 And look like heralds of Eternity; They pass like spirits of the past,—they speak Like Sibyls of the future; they have power— The tyranny of pleasure and of pain; They make us what we were not—what they will, And shake us with the vision that's gone by,[36] The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so? Is not the past all shadow?—What are they? Creations of the mind?—The mind can make Substance, and people planets of its own 20 With beings brighter than have been, and give A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.[37] I would recall a vision which I dreamed Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought, A slumbering thought, is capable of years, And curdles a long life into one hour.[38]


I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity, the last As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, 30 Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and cornfields, and the abodes of men Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs;—the hill Was crowned with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fixed, Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing—the one on all that was beneath 40 Fair as herself—but the Boy gazed on her; And both were young, and one was beautiful: And both were young—yet not alike in youth. As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The Maid was on the eve of Womanhood; The Boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him: he had looked Upon it till it could not pass away; 50 He had no breath, no being, but in hers; She was his voice; he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words; she was his sight,[i][39] For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers, Which coloured all his objects:—he had ceased To live within himself; she was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts,[40] Which terminated all: upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow,[41] And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart 60 Unknowing of its cause of agony. But she in these fond feelings had no share: Her sighs were not for him; to her he was Even as a brother—but no more; 'twas much, For brotherless she was, save in the name Her infant friendship had bestowed on him; Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honoured race.[42]—It was a name Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not—and why? Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved 70 Another: even now she loved another, And on the summit of that hill she stood Looking afar if yet her lover's steed[43] Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.


A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. There was an ancient mansion, and before Its walls there was a steed caparisoned: Within an antique Oratory stood The Boy of whom I spake;—he was alone,[44] And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon 80 He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned His bowed head on his hands, and shook as 'twere With a convulsion—then arose again, And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear What he had written, but he shed no tears. And he did calm himself, and fix his brow Into a kind of quiet: as he paused, The Lady of his love re-entered there; She was serene and smiling then, and yet 90 She knew she was by him beloved—she knew, For quickly comes such knowledge,[45] that his heart Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw That he was wretched, but she saw not all. He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp He took her hand; a moment o'er his face A tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced, and then it faded, as it came; He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps Retired, but not as bidding her adieu, 100 For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed From out the massy gate of that old Hall, And mounting on his steed he went his way; And ne'er repassed that hoary threshold more.[46]


A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds Of fiery climes he made himself a home, And his Soul drank their sunbeams: he was girt With strange and dusky aspects; he was not Himself like what he had been; on the sea 110 And on the shore he was a wanderer; There was a mass of many images Crowded like waves upon me, but he was A part of all; and in the last he lay Reposing from the noontide sultriness, Couched among fallen columns, in the shade Of ruined walls that had survived the names Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds Were fastened near a fountain; and a man 120 Clad in a flowing garb did watch the while, While many of his tribe slumbered around: And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.[47]


A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The Lady of his love was wed with One Who did not love her better:—in her home, A thousand leagues from his,—her native home, She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy, 130 Daughters and sons of Beauty,—but behold! Upon her face there was the tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.[48] What could her grief be?—she had all she loved, And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts. What could her grief be?—she had loved him not, 140 Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved, Nor could he be a part of that which preyed Upon her mind—a spectre of the past.


A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The Wanderer was returned.—I saw him stand Before an Altar—with a gentle bride; Her face was fair, but was not that which made The Starlight[49] of his Boyhood;—as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The self-same aspect, and the quivering shock[50] 150 That in the antique Oratory shook His bosom in its solitude; and then— As in that hour—a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced,—and then it faded as it came, And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke The fitting vows, but heard not his own words, And all things reeled around him; he could see Not that which was, nor that which should have been— But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall, 160 And the remembered chambers, and the place, The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade, All things pertaining to that place and hour And her who was his destiny, came back And thrust themselves between him and the light: What business had they there at such a time?


A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The Lady of his love;—Oh! she was changed As by the sickness of the soul; her mind Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes 170 They had not their own lustre, but the look Which is not of the earth; she was become The Queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts Were combinations of disjointed things; And forms, impalpable and unperceived Of others' sight, familiar were to hers. And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise Have a far deeper madness—and the glance Of melancholy is a fearful gift; What is it but the telescope of truth? 180 Which strips the distance of its fantasies, And brings life near in utter nakedness, Making the cold reality too real![j][51]


A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The Wanderer was alone as heretofore, The beings which surrounded him were gone, Or were at war with him; he was a mark For blight and desolation, compassed round With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed In all which was served up to him, until, 190 Like to the Pontic monarch of old days,[52] He fed on poisons, and they had no power, But were a kind of nutriment; he lived Through that which had been death to many men, And made him friends of mountains:[53] with the stars And the quick Spirit of the Universe[54] He held his dialogues; and they did teach To him the magic of their mysteries; To him the book of Night was opened wide, And voices from the deep abyss revealed[55] 200 A marvel and a secret—Be it so.


My dream was past; it had no further change. It was of a strange order, that the doom Of these two creatures should be thus traced out Almost like a reality—the one To end in madness—both in misery.

July, 1816.

[First published, The Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]


I had a dream, which was not all a dream. The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars Did wander darkling in the eternal space, Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air; Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day, And men forgot their passions in the dread Of this their desolation; and all hearts Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light: And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones, 10 The palaces of crowned kings—the huts, The habitations of all things which dwell, Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed, And men were gathered round their blazing homes To look once more into each other's face; Happy were those who dwelt within the eye Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch: A fearful hope was all the World contained; Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks 20 Extinguished with a crash—and all was black. The brows of men by the despairing light Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits The flashes fell upon them; some lay down And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled; And others hurried to and fro, and fed Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up With mad disquietude on the dull sky, The pall of a past World; and then again 30 With curses cast them down upon the dust, And gnashed their teeth and howled: the wild birds shrieked, And, terrified, did flutter on the ground, And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawled And twined themselves among the multitude, Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food: And War, which for a moment was no more, Did glut himself again:—a meal was bought With blood, and each sate sullenly apart 40 Gorging himself in gloom: no Love was left; All earth was but one thought—and that was Death, Immediate and inglorious; and the pang Of famine fed upon all entrails—men Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh; The meagre by the meagre were devoured, Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one, And he was faithful to a corse, and kept The birds and beasts and famished men at bay, Till hunger clung them,[57] or the dropping dead 50 Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food, But with a piteous and perpetual moan, And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand Which answered not with a caress—he died. The crowd was famished by degrees; but two Of an enormous city did survive, And they were enemies: they met beside The dying embers of an altar-place Where had been heaped a mass of holy things For an unholy usage; they raked up, 60 And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath Blew for a little life, and made a flame Which was a mockery; then they lifted up Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld[58] Each other's aspects—saw, and shrieked, and died— Even of their mutual hideousness they died, Unknowing who he was upon whose brow Famine had written Fiend. The World was void, The populous and the powerful was a lump, 70 Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless— A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay. The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still, And nothing stirred within their silent depths; Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea, And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropped They slept on the abyss without a surge— The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave, The Moon, their mistress, had expired before; The winds were withered in the stagnant air, 80 And the clouds perished; Darkness had no need Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

Diodati, July, 1816.

[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]



I stood beside the grave of him who blazed The Comet of a season, and I saw The humblest of all sepulchres, and gazed With not the less of sorrow and of awe On that neglected turf and quiet stone, With name no clearer than the names unknown, Which lay unread around it; and I asked The Gardener of that ground, why it might be That for this plant strangers his memory tasked, Through the thick deaths of half a century; 10 And thus he answered—"Well, I do not know Why frequent travellers turn to pilgrims so; He died before my day of Sextonship, And I had not the digging of this grave." And is this all? I thought,—and do we rip The veil of Immortality, and crave I know not what of honour and of light Through unborn ages, to endure this blight? So soon, and so successless? As I said,[61] The Architect of all on which we tread, 20 For Earth is but a tombstone, did essay To extricate remembrance from the clay, Whose minglings might confuse a Newton's thought, Were it not that all life must end in one, Of which we are but dreamers;—as he caught As 'twere the twilight of a former Sun,[62] Thus spoke he,—"I believe the man of whom You wot, who lies in this selected[63] tomb, Was a most famous writer in his day, And therefore travellers step from out their way 30 To pay him honour,—and myself whate'er Your honour pleases:"—then most pleased I shook[l] From out my pocket's avaricious nook Some certain coins of silver, which as 'twere Perforce I gave this man, though I could spare So much but inconveniently:—Ye smile, I see ye, ye profane ones! all the while, Because my homely phrase the truth would tell. You are the fools, not I—for I did dwell With a deep thought, and with a softened eye, 40 On that old Sexton's natural homily, In which there was Obscurity and Fame,— The Glory and the Nothing of a Name.

Diodati, 1816.

[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]



Titan! to whose immortal eyes The sufferings of mortality, Seen in their sad reality, Were not as things that gods despise; What was thy pity's recompense?[65] A silent suffering, and intense; The rock, the vulture, and the chain, All that the proud can feel of pain, The agony they do not show, The suffocating sense of woe, 10 Which speaks but in its loneliness, And then is jealous lest the sky Should have a listener, nor will sigh Until its voice is echoless.


Titan! to thee the strife was given Between the suffering and the will, Which torture where they cannot kill; And the inexorable Heaven,[66] And the deaf tyranny of Fate, The ruling principle of Hate, 20 Which for its pleasure doth create[67] The things it may annihilate, Refused thee even the boon to die:[68] The wretched gift Eternity Was thine—and thou hast borne it well. All that the Thunderer wrung from thee Was but the menace which flung back On him the torments of thy rack; The fate thou didst so well foresee,[69] But would not to appease him tell; 30 And in thy Silence was his Sentence, And in his Soul a vain repentance, And evil dread so ill dissembled, That in his hand the lightnings trembled.


Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,[70] To render with thy precepts less The sum of human wretchedness, And strengthen Man with his own mind; But baffled as thou wert from high, Still in thy patient energy, 40 In the endurance, and repulse Of thine impenetrable Spirit, Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse, A mighty lesson we inherit: Thou art a symbol and a sign To Mortals of their fate and force; Like thee, Man is in part divine,[71] A troubled stream from a pure source; And Man in portions can foresee His own funereal destiny; 50 His wretchedness, and his resistance, And his sad unallied existence: To which his Spirit may oppose Itself—an equal to all woes—[m][72] And a firm will, and a deep sense, Which even in torture can descry Its own concentered recompense, Triumphant where it dares defy, And making Death a Victory.

Diodati, July, 1816.

[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]


Could I remount the river of my years To the first fountain of our smiles and tears, I would not trace again the stream of hours Between their outworn banks of withered flowers, But bid it flow as now—until it glides Into the number of the nameless tides.

* * * * *

What is this Death?—a quiet of the heart? The whole of that of which we are a part? For Life is but a vision—what I see Of all which lives alone is Life to me, 10 And being so—the absent are the dead, Who haunt us from tranquillity, and spread A dreary shroud around us, and invest With sad remembrancers our hours of rest. The absent are the dead—for they are cold, And ne'er can be what once we did behold; And they are changed, and cheerless,—or if yet The unforgotten do not all forget, Since thus divided—equal must it be If the deep barrier be of earth, or sea; 20 It may be both—but one day end it must In the dark union of insensate dust. The under-earth inhabitants—are they But mingled millions decomposed to clay? The ashes of a thousand ages spread Wherever Man has trodden or shall tread? Or do they in their silent cities dwell Each in his incommunicative cell? Or have they their own language? and a sense Of breathless being?—darkened and intense 30 As Midnight in her solitude?—Oh Earth! Where are the past?—and wherefore had they birth? The dead are thy inheritors—and we But bubbles on thy surface; and the key Of thy profundity is in the Grave, The ebon portal of thy peopled cave, Where I would walk in spirit, and behold[74] Our elements resolved to things untold, And fathom hidden wonders, and explore The essence of great bosoms now no more. 40

* * * * *

Diodati, July, 1816.

[First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 36.]


Rousseau—Voltaire—our Gibbon—and De Stael— Leman![75] these names are worthy of thy shore, Thy shore of names like these! wert thou no more, Their memory thy remembrance would recall: To them thy banks were lovely as to all, But they have made them lovelier, for the lore Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core Of human hearts the ruin of a wall Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel, In sweetly gliding o'er thy crystal sea,[76] The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal, Which of the Heirs of Immortality Is proud, and makes the breath of Glory real!

Diodati, July, 1816.

[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]



Though the day of my Destiny's over, And the star of my Fate hath declined,[o] Thy soft heart refused to discover The faults which so many could find; Though thy Soul with my grief was acquainted, It shrunk not to share it with me, And the Love which my Spirit hath painted[p] It never hath found but in Thee.


Then when Nature around me is smiling,[78] The last smile which answers to mine, I do not believe it beguiling,[q] Because it reminds me of thine; And when winds are at war with the ocean, As the breasts I believed in with me,[r] If their billows excite an emotion, It is that they bear me from Thee.


Though the rock of my last Hope is shivered,[s] And its fragments are sunk in the wave, Though I feel that my soul is delivered To Pain—it shall not be its slave. There is many a pang to pursue me: They may crush, but they shall not contemn; They may torture, but shall not subdue me; 'Tis of Thee that I think—not of them.[t]


Though human, thou didst not deceive me, Though woman, thou didst not forsake, Though loved, thou forborest to grieve me, Though slandered, thou never couldst shake;[u][79] Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me, Though parted, it was not to fly, Though watchful, 'twas not to defame me, Nor, mute, that the world might belie.[v]


Yet I blame not the World, nor despise it, Nor the war of the many with one; If my Soul was not fitted to prize it, 'Twas folly not sooner to shun:[80] And if dearly that error hath cost me, And more than I once could foresee, I have found that, whatever it lost me,[w] It could not deprive me of Thee.


From the wreck of the past, which hath perished,[x] Thus much I at least may recall, It hath taught me that what I most cherished Deserved to be dearest of all: In the Desert a fountain is springing,[y][81] In the wide waste there still is a tree, And a bird in the solitude singing, Which speaks to my spirit of Thee.[82]

July 24, 1816.

[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]



My Sister! my sweet Sister! if a name Dearer and purer were, it should be thine. Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim No tears, but tenderness to answer mine: Go where I will, to me thou art the same— A loved regret which I would not resign.[z] There yet are two things in my destiny,— A world to roam through, and a home with thee.[84]


The first were nothing—had I still the last, It were the haven of my happiness; But other claims and other ties thou hast,[aa] And mine is not the wish to make them less. A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past[ab] Recalling, as it lies beyond redress; Reversed for him our grandsire's[85] fate of yore,— He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.


If my inheritance of storms hath been In other elements, and on the rocks Of perils, overlooked or unforeseen, I have sustained my share of worldly shocks, The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen My errors with defensive paradox;[ac] I have been cunning in mine overthrow, The careful pilot of my proper woe.


Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward. My whole life was a contest, since the day That gave me being, gave me that which marred The gift,—a fate, or will, that walked astray;[86] And I at times have found the struggle hard, And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay: But now I fain would for a time survive, If but to see what next can well arrive.


Kingdoms and Empires in my little day I have outlived, and yet I am not old; And when I look on this, the petty spray Of my own years of trouble, which have rolled Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away: Something—I know not what—does still uphold A spirit of slight patience;—not in vain, Even for its own sake, do we purchase Pain.


Perhaps the workings of defiance stir Within me—or, perhaps, a cold despair Brought on when ills habitually recur,— Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air, (For even to this may change of soul refer,[ad] And with light armour we may learn to bear,) Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not The chief companion of a calmer lot.[ae]


I feel almost at times as I have felt In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks, Which do remember me of where I dwelt, Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,[af] Come as of yore upon me, and can melt My heart with recognition of their looks; And even at moments I could think I see Some living thing to love—but none like thee.[ag]


Here are the Alpine landscapes which create A fund for contemplation;—to admire Is a brief feeling of a trivial date; But something worthier do such scenes inspire: Here to be lonely is not desolate,[87] For much I view which I could most desire, And, above all, a Lake I can behold Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.[88]


Oh that thou wert but with me!—but I grow The fool of my own wishes, and forget The solitude which I have vaunted so Has lost its praise in this but one regret; There may be others which I less may show;— I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet I feel an ebb in my philosophy, And the tide rising in my altered eye.[ah]


I did remind thee of our own dear Lake, By the old Hall which may be mine no more. Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore: Sad havoc Time must with my memory make, Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before; Though, like all things which I have loved, they are Resigned for ever, or divided far.

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