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The Prisoner of Chillon: A Fable

The Prisoner of Chillon: A Fable

  

by George Gordon, Lord Byron

Stanza 10 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 251-258

  • But then light returns to the speaker's mind – he hears a bird singing.
  • The bird's song comes and goes, and it's the sweetest thing he's ever heard.
  • He's so grateful to the bird that he cries.

Lines 259-270

  • Slowly, the speaker comes back to his senses.
  • He can see the walls of his dungeon around him again. And again, he can see the spot of dim sunlight on the floor of the cell.
  • But now he can see the bird perched on the gap where the light is coming in.
  • The bird seems really tame.
  • It's the most beautiful bird he's ever seen! It has blue ("azure") wings.
  • The bird's song seems incredibly eloquent to the speaker – he feels that the bird is speaking directly to him.

Lines 271-278

  • The speaker has never seen a bird like that before, and doesn't think he ever will again.
  • He imagines that, like him, the bird is lonely and "want[s] a mate."
  • But the bird isn't as sad as he is, and he imagines that it has come to comfort him when everyone in the world the speaker loved has died.
  • The bird has brought him back from his black hole of depression.

Lines 279-282

  • The speaker doesn't know whether the bird is wild, or whether it has recently escaped a cage to go and visit the speaker in his prison.
  • Knowing what imprisonment is like, the speaker can't bring himself to want to try and catch the bird and keep it as a pet.

Lines 283-299

  • The speaker wonders whether the bird might be a visitor from Heaven in disguise.
  • He asks for forgiveness for even thinking this, but he likes to think that the bird is his youngest brother's soul, coming back to him.
  • But when the bird finally flies off, he knows it's a real bird – if it were his brother, it wouldn't have left him all alone.
  • He feels as lonely as a corpse in a shroud, or as lonely as a single cloud on a sunny day. He feels like the only sad and lonely thing in the world.

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