Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  The Old Baron

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Thomas Miller 1807–74

The Old Baron

HIGH on a leaf-carv’d ancient oaken chair

The Norman Baron sat within his hall,

Wearied with a long chase by wold and mere;

His hunting spear was rear’d against the wall;

Upon the hearth-stone a large wood-fire blaz’d,

Crackled, or smok’d, or hiss’d, as the green boughs were rais’d.

Above an arch’d and iron-studded door,

The grim escutcheon’s rude devices stood;

On each side rear’d a black and gristly boar,

With hearts and daggers grav’d on grounds of blood,

And deep-dyed gules o’er which plum’d helmets frown;

Beneath this motto ran,—“Beware! I trample down.”

And high around were suits of armor placed,

And shields triangular, with the wild-boar’s head;

Arrows, and bows, and swords the rafters graced,

And red-deer’s antlers their wide branches spread;

A rough wolf’s hide was nail’d upon the wall,

Its white teeth clench’d as when it in the dell did fall.

An angel-lamp from the carv’d ceiling hung;

Its outstretch’d wings the blazing oil contain’d,

While its long figure in the wide hall swung,

Blackening the roof to which its arms were chain’d;

The iron hair fell backward like a veil,

And through the gusty door it sent a weary wail.

The heavy arras flutter’d in the wind

That through the grated windows sweeping came,

And in its foldings glitter’d hart and hind,

While hawk, and horse, and hound, and kirtled dame,

Moved on the curtain’d waves, then sank in shade,

Just as the fitful wind along the arras played.

On the oak table, filled with blood-red wine,

A silver cup of quaint engraving stood,

On which a thin-limb’d stag of old design,

Chas’d by six long-ear’d dogs, made for a wood;

Sounding a horn a huntsman stood in view,

Whose swollen cheeks uprais’d the silver as he blew.

At the old Baron’s feet a wolf-dog lay,

Watching his features with unflinching eye;

An aged minstrel, whose long locks were gray,

On an old harp his wither’d hands did try;

A crimson banner’s rustling folds hung low,

And threw a rosy light upon his wrinkled brow.