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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

After Byron

On the early grey Tuesday morning I am sitting in the train with the prisoner of Chillon by my side, a little volume of Lord Byron’s poetry. Swiss Riviera is the destination of the day.
Chillon castle squats grumpily on the Lake Leman as if reproaching everyone for the merriness of the region.


“Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls:
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow:
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement,
Which round about the wave inthrals:
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made - and like a living grave…”

Lord Byron, The prisoner of Chillon

Curious tourists seem in a hurry to leave the mournful place and so am I: out, out, on the cheerful alleys, full of palaces and cafés, flowers and sounds of jazz…. Until I see something really beautiful - light, modest September sun rays, amusing themselves dipping in and out of elaborately carved thousand-year-old wood, playing hide and seek in medieval metal door handles, polished by hands of thousands of tourists… I am mesmerized and suddenly I want to stay...
"My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are: - even I
Regain'd my freedom with a sigh."

Lord Byron, The Prisoner of Chillon

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