Edmund’s Notebook 10: The Walls of the Hall


Image: A Young Scholar, Tyne & Wear Archives; Museums

A poem in the style of Henry Newbolt’s Vitaї Lampada

There’s a breathless hush in the Hall to-night —
Time to make all the plans to win —
A hissing thump and a sput’ring light,
An hour ’til dawn and the last one in.
And it’s not for the sake of an estate so old,
Or the selfish hope of a family’s care,
But his Matron’s frown in his eyes all cold,
“Stand up! stand up! Win if you dare!”

The boards of the floor are sodden red, —
Red with the wreck of a nose that broke; —
The doors are jammed and mirth is dead,
And the family muttering in the smoke.
The rain of soot has locked us in,
And truth is far, and Honour a shame,
But the voice of heir-boy rallies the ranks,
“Stand up! stand up! Win if you dare!”

This is the place that day by day,
While in her place the Mansion is set
The boy-heir of the land will again say,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a spiteful mind
Bear through life like a hounding nightmare,
And falling fling to the ghost behind —
“Stand up! stand up! Win if you dare!”


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