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It was as is a new-dug grave,
Closing o'er one we sought to save,—
And yet my glance, too much oppressed,
Had almost need of such a rest.


It might be months, or years, or days,

I kept no count, I took no note,

I had no hope my eyes to raise,

And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free;

I asked not why, and recked not where;
It was at length the same to me,
Fettered or fetterless to be,

I learned to love despair.

And thus when they appeared at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage-and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watched them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill-yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learned to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are: —even I
Regained my freedom with a sigh.









f 70,000

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ng with a asylum in


In what historical period are the events of this poem supposed In what lands?

to occur?

What probably was the religious faith of the prisoners?

Describe the meter of the poem. Is it suited to such a tale? What other poets used the same metrical form?

Pick out the most poetical passages.

Part IX. is much admired by critics: can you discover its superior merit?

Observe the exquisite tenderness of Part X.

Which lines show Byron's susceptibility to humane emotions? To nature's influence?

Compare, as to body and as to mind, the two brothers who died in prison.

What evidence of their superstitious tendency do the prisoners betray?

It might prove interesting to the reader to compare with this celebrated poem other pieces of literature dealing with the sorrow nd heroism of human captivity. Read Surrey's lines on his im'sonment in Windsor, Sir R. L'Estrange's "Loyalty Confined," R. Lovelace's "To Althea, from Prison;" also Scott's de

on of a dungeon in "Marmion." In prose, every schooldid and uld read "My Prisons," by Silvio Pellico, and "Picciola,"


prose: aine. On its le.

Meillerie a

a hill, behi

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'T was after dread Pultowa's day,2
When fortune left the royal Swede,
Around a slaughter'd army lay,

No more to combat and to bleed.

1 The theme and plot of the stirring metrical romance entitled “Mazeppa,” were suggested to its author's imagination by a passage in Voltaire's Life of Charles XII., a few paragraphs of which, quoted as a prefatory note to the poem, under the caption of Advertisement are here reproduced in translation:

"The man who occupied that position was a nobleman from Poland, by the name of Mazeppa, born in the palatinate of Podolia. He had been brought up as a page of John Casimir, King of Poland, at whose court he had acquired some knowledge of belles-lettres. An intrigue which he had in the days of his youth, with the wife of a Polish nobleman, having been discovered by her husband, the latter sentenced him to be bound naked on the back of an unbroken horse and left to his fate in the wilderness. The horse, which was from the Ukraine, returned thither of its own accord, carrying Mazeppa half dead from exposure, exhaustion and hunger. Some peasants rescued 1 him and he remained with them for a long time and distinguished himself in several raids against the Tartars. The superiority of his education caused him to be treated with high consideration by the Cossacks. His fame becoming greater from day to day, the Czar was induced to honor him with the title of Prince of the Ukraine. "While the King (Charles XII. of Sweden) was fleeing from his enemies,


2 The battle of Pultowa was fought, June 27, 1709, by an army of 70,000 Russians, under Peter the Great, and a force of about 25,000 Swedes commanded by Charles XII. "It was Charles's Waterloo," says the historian Myers. “The Swedish army was virtually annihilated. Escaping with a few followers from the field, Charles fled southward and found an asylum in Turkey."

The power and glory of the war,
Faithless as their vain votaries, men,
Had pass'd to the triumphant Czar,
And Moscow's walls were safe again,
Until a day more dark and drear,
And a more memorable year,


Should give to slaughter and to shame
A mightier host and haughtier name; 1
A greater wreck, a deeper fall,

A shock to one-a thunderbolt to all.


Such was the hazard of the die;

The wounded Charles was taught to fly
By day and night through field and flood,
Stain'd with his own and subjects' blood;
For thousands fell that flight to aid:
And not a voice was heard t' upbraid

Ambition in his humbled hour,

When truth had nought to dread from power.





his horse was shot under him. Colonel Gieta, though wounded and faint from loss of blood, gave his own steed to the monarch. . .

"The King went by another road, with some cavaliers. The carriage in which he rode having broken down, he was again put on horseback. To cap the climax of his humiliating misfortunes, he lost his way in the woods during the night; there his failing courage could no longer sustain his exhausted strength,—the pain from his wounds became more unbearable on account of fatigue, and his wearied horse having fallen down, Charles was obliged to lie, for some hours, at the foot of a tree, in great danger of being captured at any moment by the victors who were seeking him in every direction."

1 Moscow was burned in September, 1812, during the time of the invasion of Russia by the French under Napoleon Bonaparte, the "haughtier name." The loss to the French in that disastrous campaign amounted to about > men, the victims of war, famine and disease.

His horse was slain, and Gieta1 gave
His own-and died the Russians' slave.
This too sinks after many a league
Of well sustain'd but vain fatigue;
And in the depth of forests darkling,
The watch-fires in the distance sparkling-

The beacons of surrounding foes-
A king must lay his limbs at length.
Are these the laurels and repose
For which the nations strain their strength?

They laid him by a savage tree,
In outworn nature's agony;

His wounds were stiff, his limbs were stark;
The heavy hour was chill and dark;
The fever in his blood forbade
A transient slumber's fitful aid:
And thus it was; but yet through all,
Kinglike the monarch bore his fall,
And made, in this extreme of ill,
pangs the vassals of his will:
All silent and subdued were they,
As once the nations round him lay.


A band of chiefs!-alas! how few,
Since but the fleeting of a day
Had thinn'd it; but this wreck was true
And chivalrous: upon the clay
Each sate him down, all sad and mute,
Beside his monarch and his steed;
For danger levels man and brute,

And all are fellows in their need.
Among the rest, Mazeppa made

1 See note I, page 33.







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