'Locksley Hall' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet 't is early morn:
Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn.

'T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call,
Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall;

Locksley Hall, that in the distance overlooks the sandy tracts,
And the hollow ocean-ridges roaring into cataracts.

Many a night from yonder ivied casement, ere I went to rest,
Did I look on great Orion sloping slowly to the West.

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.

Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.--

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Then her cheek was pale and thinner than should be for one so young,
And her eyes on all my motions with a mute observance hung.

And I said, "My cousin Amy, speak, and speak the truth to me,
Trust me, cousin, all the current of my being sets to thee."

On her pallid cheek and forehead came a colour and a light,
As I have seen the rosy red flushing in the northern night.

And she turn'd--her bosom shaken with a sudden storm of sighs--
All the spirit deeply dawning in the dark of hazel eyes--

Saying, "I have hid my feelings, fearing they should do me wrong";
Saying, "Dost thou love me, cousin?" weeping, "I have loved thee long."

Love took up the glass of Time, and turn'd it in his glowing hands;
Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.

Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;
Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass'd in music out of sight.

Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring,
And her whisper throng'd my pulses with the fulness of the Spring.

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships,
And our spirits rush'd together at the touching of the lips.

O my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more!
O the dreary, dreary moorland! O the barren, barren shore!

Falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all songs have sung,
Puppet to a father's threat, and servile to a shrewish tongue!

Is it well to wish thee happy?--having known me--to decline
On a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart than mine!

Yet it shall be; thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathize with clay.

As the husband is, the wife is: thou art mated with a clown,
And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down.

He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,
Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.

What is this? his eyes are heavy; think not they are glazed with wine.
Go to him, it is thy duty, kiss him, take his hand in thine.

It may be my lord is weary, that his brain is overwrought:
Soothe him with thy finer fancies, touch him with thy lighter thought.

He will answer to the purpose, easy things to understand--
Better thou wert dead before me, tho' I slew thee with my hand!

Better thou and I were lying, hidden from the heart's disgrace,
Roll'd in one another's arms, and silent in a last embrace.

Cursed be the social wants that sin against the strength of youth!
Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth!

Cursed be the sickly forms that err from honest Nature's rule!
Cursed be the gold that gilds the straiten'd forehead of the fool!

Well--'t is well that I should bluster!--Hadst thou less unworthy proved--
Would to God--for I had loved thee more than ever wife was loved.

Am I mad, that I should cherish that which bears but bitter fruit?
I will pluck it from my bosom, tho' my heart be at the root.

Never, tho' my mortal summers to such length of years should come
As the many-winter'd crow that leads the clanging rookery home.

Where is comfort? in division of the records of the mind?
Can I part her from herself, and love her, as I knew her, kind?

I remember one that perish'd; sweetly did she speak and move;
Such a one do I remember, whom to look at was to love.

Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the love she bore?
No--she never loved me truly; love is love for evermore.

Comfort? comfort scorn'd of devils! this is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.

Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to proof,
In the dead unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof.

Like a dog, he hunts in dreams, and thou art staring at the wall,
Where the dying night-lamp flickers, and the shadows rise and fall.

Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to his drunken sleep,
To thy widow'd marriage-pillows, to the tears that thou wilt weep.

Thou shalt hear the "Never, never," whisper'd by the phantom years,
And a song from out the distance in the ringing of thine ears;

And an eye shall vex thee, looking ancient kindness on thy pain.
Turn thee, turn thee on thy pillow; get thee to thy rest again.

Nay, but Nature brings thee solace; for a tender voice will cry.
'T is a purer life than thine, a lip to drain thy trouble dry.

Baby lips will laugh me down; my latest rival brings thee rest.
Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the mother's breast.

O, the child too clothes the father with a dearness not his due.
Half is thine and half is his: it will be worthy of the two.

O, I see thee old and formal, fitted to thy petty part,
With a little hoard of maxims preaching down a daughter's heart.

"They were dangerous guides the feelings--she herself was not exempt--
Truly, she herself had suffer'd"--Perish in thy self-contempt!

Overlive it--lower yet--be happy! wherefore should I care?
I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by despair.

What is that which I should turn to, lighting upon days like these?
Every door is barr'd with gold, and opens but to golden keys.

Every gate is throng'd with suitors, all the markets overflow.
I have but an angry fancy; what is that which I should do?

I had been content to perish, falling on the foeman's ground,
When the ranks are roll'd in vapour, and the winds are laid with sound.

But the jingling of the guinea helps the hurt that Honour feels,
And the nations do but murmur, snarling at each other's heels.

Can I but relive in sadness? I will turn that earlier page.
Hide me from my deep emotion, O thou wondrous Mother-Age!

Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife,
When I heard my days before me, and the tumult of my life;

Yearning for the large excitement that the coming years would yield,
Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's field,

And at night along the dusky highway near and nearer drawn,
Sees in heaven the light of London flaring like a dreary dawn;

And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then,
Underneath the light he looks at, in among the throngs of men:

Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do:

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.

So I triumph'd ere my passion sweeping thro' me left me dry,
Left me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;

Eye, to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint:
Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point:

Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher,
Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire.

Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns.

What is that to him that reaps not harvest of his youthful joys,
Tho' the deep heart of existence beat for ever like a boy's?

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore,
And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest.

Hark, my merry comrades call me, sounding on the bugle-horn,
They to whom my foolish passion were a target for their scorn:

Shall it not be scorn to me to harp on such a moulder'd string?
I am shamed thro' all my nature to have loved so slight a thing.

Weakness to be wroth with weakness! woman's pleasure, woman's pain--
Nature made them blinder motions bounded in a shallower brain:

Woman is the lesser man, and all thy passions, match'd with mine,
Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine--

Here at least, where nature sickens, nothing. Ah, for some retreat
Deep in yonder shining Orient, where my life began to beat;

Where in wild Mahratta-battle fell my father evil-starr'd,--
I was left a trampled orphan, and a selfish uncle's ward.

Or to burst all links of habit--there to wander far away,
On from island unto island at the gateways of the day.

Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,
Breadths of tropic shade and palms in cluster, knots of Paradise.

Never comes the trader, never floats an European flag,
Slides the bird o'er lustrous woodland, swings the trailer from the crag;

Droops the heavy-blossom'd bower, hangs the heavy-fruited tree--
Summer isles of Eden lying in dark-purple spheres of sea.

There methinks would be enjoyment more than in this march of mind,
In the steamship, in the railway, in the thoughts that shake mankind.

There the passions cramp'd no longer shall have scope and breathing space;
I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race.

Iron-jointed, supple-sinew'd, they shall dive, and they shall run,
Catch the wild goat by the hair, and hurl their lances in the sun;

Whistle back the parrot's call, and leap the rainbows of the brooks,
Not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books--

Fool, again the dream, the fancy! but I know my words are wild,
But I count the gray barbarian lower than the Christian child.

I, to herd with narrow foreheads, vacant of our glorious gains,
Like a beast with lower pleasures, like a beast with lower pains!

Mated with a squalid savage--what to me were sun or clime?
I the heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time--

I that rather held it better men should perish one by one,
Than that earth should stand at gaze like Joshua's moon in Ajalon!

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.

Thro' the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.

Mother-Age (for mine I knew not) help me as when life begun:
Rift the hills, and roll the waters, flash the lightnings, weigh the Sun.

O, I see the crescent promise of my spirit hath not set.
Ancient founts of inspiration well thro' all my fancy yet.

Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley Hall!
Now for me the woods may wither, now for me the roof-tree fall.

Comes a vapour from the margin, blackening over heath and holt,
Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt.

Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail, or fire or snow;
For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Locksley Hall by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: A Masterpiece of Love, Loss, and Hope

Have you ever read a poem that made you feel like you were traveling through time? A poem that takes you on a journey through the turbulent emotions of a human heart, leaving you breathless at every turn? That's exactly what Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Locksley Hall" does.

"Locksley Hall" is a poem that deals with love, loss, and hope. It was first published in 1842 and has since become one of Tennyson's most popular works. The poem is written in a dramatic monologue format, which means that the speaker is addressing an audience – in this case, the reader. The poem is divided into four parts, each with its own distinct mood and message.

Part I: The Past

The poem begins with the speaker reminiscing about his childhood days at Locksley Hall. He describes the sea and the woods, the birds and the flowers, and how they all brought him joy. But then, his mind turns to Amy, his childhood sweetheart, and how he loved her even then. The speaker paints a picture of a perfect world, where love and nature were one and the same. But the mood quickly changes as the speaker realizes that this world is no longer his reality.

"Fifty years of Europe, have rolled away in yonder scroll: Down the gap of darkness peers my last and living soul."

The speaker is now an old man, looking back on his life and realizing that it has passed him by. He is filled with regret for the things he did not do, the love he did not pursue, and the dreams he did not fulfill. The tone of the poem becomes melancholic, and the reader can feel the weight of the speaker's sorrow.

Part II: The Present

The second part of the poem is where the speaker's emotions truly come to life. He is no longer reminiscing about the past but is instead living in the present moment. The speaker is at a party, surrounded by people who are wealthy and successful, but he feels out of place. He sees them as shallow and materialistic, and he longs for something more.

"Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new: That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do"

The speaker's words are filled with passion and conviction as he speaks about the workers and their potential. He sees them as the true heroes of the world, the ones who will bring about change and progress. The reader can feel the speaker's admiration for these working-class people, and his desire to be a part of their world.

Part III: The Future

The third part of the poem is where the speaker's hope for the future shines through. He speaks about the potential of humanity, and how they can overcome the obstacles that hold them back. He sees a world where love and equality reign, where people are judged by their character and not their status.

"Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws."

The speaker's words are powerful, and the reader can sense his optimism and hope for the future. He believes that humanity can rise above their current state and create a better world for themselves and those who come after them.

Part IV: The Conclusion

The final part of the poem is where the speaker's emotions come full circle. He begins by saying that he will never return to Locksley Hall, but then he ends by saying that he will always carry a part of it with him. The speaker realizes that while the past is gone, it will always be a part of who he is.

"Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs, And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns."

The poem ends with the speaker's belief in the progress of humanity. He sees a future where people are united in their love and respect for one another, and where the world is a better place because of it.


"Locksley Hall" is a poem that speaks to the human experience. It is a reminder that life is short, and that we must make the most of the time we have. The poem is filled with emotion, from the speaker's regret for the past to his hope for the future. It is a masterpiece of love, loss, and hope, and it is a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we can always find the light.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has the power to transport us to different worlds and times, and one such masterpiece that has stood the test of time is Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Locksley Hall." This poem, written in 1835, is a classic example of Victorian poetry that explores themes of love, loss, and the changing world.

"Locksley Hall" is a dramatic monologue that tells the story of a young man who is reflecting on his past and present life. The poem is set in the idyllic Locksley Hall, a place that represents the speaker's childhood and innocence. However, as the poem progresses, the speaker's tone becomes increasingly bitter and disillusioned as he confronts the harsh realities of life.

The poem begins with a nostalgic description of Locksley Hall, where the speaker spent his childhood. He describes the "long, unlovely street" and the "garden-walks at evening," which evoke a sense of peace and tranquility. The speaker also mentions his childhood sweetheart, Amy, who he believes is still waiting for him. However, as the poem progresses, it becomes clear that the speaker's life has taken a different turn.

The speaker's bitterness and disillusionment stem from his failed love affair with his cousin, who he believed was his soulmate. He describes her as "the star that shines afar," and his love for her is all-consuming. However, his cousin marries someone else, and the speaker is left heartbroken and disillusioned. He feels that his life has lost its purpose, and he is unable to find happiness.

The poem also explores the changing world and the speaker's disillusionment with it. He describes the "parliament of man" and the "federation of the world," which were popular ideas during the Victorian era. However, the speaker is skeptical of these ideas and believes that they are unrealistic. He feels that the world is becoming more materialistic and that people are losing their values and morals.

The poem's structure is also noteworthy. It is written in trochaic tetrameter, which means that each line has eight syllables, with the stress falling on the first syllable. This gives the poem a rhythmic quality and makes it easy to read aloud. The poem also has a regular rhyme scheme, with the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyming. This gives the poem a musical quality and makes it memorable.

The poem's language is also rich and evocative. Tennyson uses vivid imagery to describe Locksley Hall and the speaker's emotions. For example, he describes the "purple spikes of the crocus" and the "yellowing elm-boughs," which create a vivid picture of the idyllic setting. He also uses metaphors to describe the speaker's emotions, such as "the gloom that laps a lonely island-shore" and "the shadow of the dome of pleasure."

In conclusion, "Locksley Hall" is a classic example of Victorian poetry that explores themes of love, loss, and the changing world. The poem's structure, language, and imagery make it a memorable and evocative piece of literature. The speaker's bitterness and disillusionment may seem pessimistic, but they reflect the anxieties and uncertainties of the Victorian era. Tennyson's poem is a timeless masterpiece that continues to resonate with readers today.

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