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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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