Important Terms

Chillon: the name of a castle (Chateau) in Switzerland. Prisoners who were supporters of Liberty were kept here in the damp vaults. These vaults or cellars or dungeons were at a semi-sub-lake level: that is why these cellars were always damp/wet.

Bonnivard:- A great man who fought for the freedom of his country. In the castle of Chillon, Bonnivard was chained to a pillar for six years in the 1530s. The place he was chained was a semi-sub-lake level dungeon. In 1816 Lord Byron came to the Castle of Chillon and saw the place where Bonnivard was imprisoned.

Summary and Explanation

In this poem Byron personifies Liberty. Liberty will live forever and people will die or give up their lives fighting for liberty. Liberty cannot be chained; liberty resides in the hearts and minds of freedom fighters. Liberty shines brightly even in the dungeons, the dungeons where prisoners fighting for liberty were kept. No tyrannical chains can bind the hearts of prisoners; their heart can only be chained by liberty.

Oh liberty when your sons are bound by chains and locked in damp, dark, gloomy vaults, their country wins battles in their names and with their sacrifices. Lord Byron wishes to emphasize that the sacrifices of these martyrs are much appreciated by their countrymen. Even the wind helps to spread the names of the martyrs who gave up their lives fighting for freedom.

Byron personifies Chillon: the prison where prisoners were kept is indeed a holy place. People will come from far and near to worship the very floor on which prisoners ceaselessly walked. Bonnivard, the great freedom fighter, walked on these floors for six years. He became feeble and weak because he was chained to a pillar for six years. He walked on these wet floors and his very steps seemed to have left a mark on the floors. The floors have become holy due to the sacrifices of prisoners like Bonnivard. Lord Byron, the poet hopes that no one wipes out the marks of these prisoners. for these marks will remind the viewer (who goes to visit the castle) and the reader (one who will read this poem) of the cruel and unreasonable imprisonment of these men. God alone was a witness to their sufferings.

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Important Questions

1. Where is Chillon situated?
Ans. Chillon is situated in Switzerland. Here there is a big castle and prisoners were kept in this castle.

2. Name the Eternal Spirit.
Ans. Liberty.

3. Who was Bonnivard?
Ans. Bonnivard was a freedom fighter. He was chained and kept in the dungeon of the castle of Chillon for six years in the 1530s.

4. For how many years was Bonnivard imprisoned?
Ans. Bonnivard was imprisoned for six years in the 1530s in the castle of Chillon.

5. Why is Chillon called a “holy place”?
Ans. Chillon is called a ‘holy place’ because a number of men died here fighting for the cause of liberty and freedom. Since these men became martyrs, this is a holy place.

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