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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/45

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15
THE PRISONER OF CHILLON.

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:[1]
And in each pillar there is a ring,[2]
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.


III.

They chained us each to a column stone,

And we were three—yet, each alone;
  1. [Compare—

    "One little marshy spark of flame."

    Def. Transf., Part I. sc. 1.

    Kölbing 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. 1, 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).]

  2. [This "... is 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).]