The Prisoner of Chillon: A Fable
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Stanza 4 Summary Page 1
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
- The speaker was the oldest of the three brothers, so he figures it's his job to keep everyone's spirits up. He does his best to keep his two brothers cheerful.
- The other two brothers did as well as they could, too, given their different personalities and the circumstances.
- The youngest brother was their father's favorite, because he looked so much like their mother. He has her forehead and her bright blue eyes.
- The speaker says he felt really sorry for his youngest brother – he was so young and sweet, it seemed especially wrong for him to be in a dungeon like this.
- The youngest brother was a good-looking kid with a really sweet personality.
- But the speaker distracts himself with a parenthetical, side comment: he compares his brother's beauty to "day," but then reminds us that "day" isn't exactly beautiful to him anymore, since he's been in prison.
- But then he gets back on track: he says that his brother's beauty was like a day up in the Arctic, where you don't see a sunset for the entire summer.
- So the youngest brother is associated with summer, and daylight, and freedom. His natural personality is to be cheerful.
- The youngest brother only ever cried when someone else was hurt or unhappy – he never cried for himself.
- When he was sympathizing with someone else, though, he could really turn on the waterworks – unless, of course, he was able to do something for the person, and "assuage" their pain.