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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


The Castle of Clisson

By Thomas Gold Appleton (1812–1884)

CLISSON! thy towers, thy depth of sunless caves,

Thy humid corridors that smother sound,

And thy gapped windows whence the violet waves

A sweet farewell to Legend lingering round,

And mingling whispers echoed from afar,

Invite and chain my steps here where thy mysteries are.

The clang of steel smiting thy solid stones

Goes with me as I wind within thy towers;

Thy oubliettes unseal their ancient groans,

And fright the swallows from their airy bowers;

Silks rustle, and the gray of œillets old

Gleams with gemmed arms across the arras fold.

All this is Legend’s and fond Fancy’s work,

They give a tongue to every silent block;

For, like to Memnon, now no voices lurk,

The sun of Chivalry set, in the dumb rock.

In moody sadness frowns the questioned pile,

Where only wild-flowers live, and scarcely sunbeams smile.

Below thy festering feet the undaunted wave

Whirls with a song past roofs no more profaned,

And the wood-dove rebuilds above the grave

Of other doves in what from spoils reclaimed,

Of that sweet grove where Eloisa’s woes

Sighed to the quivering leaves from yon dark cave’s repose.

Here her strong spirit felt how vain the lore,

Heaped from all Eld, to dam pale passion’s course,

Wish chasing wish more burning than before,

And her heart emptied to its inmost source,

To madden with new waters and swift growing

Of Love’s wild passion-flower beside its flowing.

Thy cavern-like yon murderous tower is still,

It throbs no more with fiery sighs like thine;

The lizard glances past its portals chill,

And withered vine-leaves over it entwine;

The paths around are choked, and bear no more

Feet chased by passionate breath along that glowing shore.