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By Lord G.G. 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 consigned-
To fetters, and the damp vault’s dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
Chillon ! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar- for ‘t was trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonivard !- May none those marks efface!
For they appeal from tyranny to God.
Francois de Bonivard, 1496-1570, fought against the Duke of Savoy for the freedom of Geneva. He was imprisoned in Chillon from 1530 to 1536, being released when Geneva became republican. During the rest of his life he worked to make Geneva an educational center. He is said to have done much towards founding the public library and the university. Byron’s poems, while having some basis in fact, mostly sprung from his own imagination.
The Castle Lady with affectionate appeal !