A Prisoner in a Dungeon Deep

Anne Brontë 1820 (Thornton, West Yorkshire) – 1849 (Scarborough, North Yorkshire)

A prisoner in a dungeon deep
  Sat musing silently;
His head was rested on his hand,
  His elbow on his knee.
Turned he his thoughts to future times
  Or are they backward cast?
For freedom is he pining now
  Or mourning for the past?

No, he has lived so long enthralled
  Alone in dungeon gloom
That he has lost regret and hope,
  Has ceased to mourn his doom.

He pines not for the light of day
  Nor sighs for freedom now;
Such weary thoughts have ceased at length
  To rack his burning brow.

Lost in a maze of wandering thoughts
  He sits unmoving there;
That posture and that look proclaim
  The stupor of despair.

Yet not for ever did that mood
  Of sullen calm prevail;
There was a something in his eye
  That told another tale.

It did not speak of reason gone,
  It was not madness quite;
It was a fitful flickering fire,
  A strange uncertain light.

And sooth to say, these latter years
  Strange fancies now and then
Had filled his cell with scenes of life
  And forms of living men.

A mind that cannot cease to think
  Why needs he cherish there?
Torpor may bring relief to pain
  And madness to despair.

Such wildering scenes, such flitting shapes
  As feverish dreams display:
What if those fancies still increase
  And reason quite decay?

But hark, what sounds have struck his ear;
  Voices of men they seem;
And two have entered now his cell;
  Can this too be a dream?

'Orlando, hear our joyful news:
  Revenge and liberty!
Your foes are dead, and we are come
  At last to set you free.'

So spoke the elder of the two,
  And in the captive's eyes
He looked for gleaming ecstasy
  But only found surprise.

'My foes are dead! It must be then
  That all mankind are gone.
For they were all my deadly foes
  And friends I had not one.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011


Anne Brontë

Anne Brontë was a British novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Brontë literary family. more…

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"A Prisoner in a Dungeon Deep" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 9 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/3129/a-prisoner-in-a-dungeon-deep>.

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