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And thus together—yet apart,:
I was the eldest of the three,
The youngest, whom my father loved,
The other was as pure of mind,
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
With joy:—but not in chains to pine:
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:
Which round about the wave enthralls:
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay,
We heard it ripple night and day;
And I have felt the winter's spray 119
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;
And then the very rock hath rock'd,
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 loath'd and put away his food;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare, 180
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 captive's tears
Have moisten'd 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;
But why delay the truth ?—he died.
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.
He died—and they unlocked his chain,
And scoop'd for him a shallow grave 150
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begg'd 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,
That even in death his freeborn breast
In such a dungeon could not rest.