Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
Locksley Hall Sixty Years After
1Late, my grandson! half the morning have I paced these sandy tracts,
2Watch'd again the hollow ridges roaring into cataracts,
3Wander'd back to living boyhood while I heard the curlews call,
4I myself so close on death, and death itself in Locksley Hall.
5So -- your happy suit was blasted -- she the faultless, the divine;
6And you liken -- boyish babble -- this boy-love of yours with mine.
7I myself have often babbled doubtless of a foolish past;
8Babble, babble; our old England may go down in babble at last.
9'Curse him!' curse your fellow-victim? call him dotard in your rage?
10Eyes that lured a doting boyhood well might fool a dotard's age.
11Jilted for a wealthier! wealthier? yet perhaps she was not wise;
12I remember how you kiss'd the miniature with those sweet eyes.
13In the hall there hangs a painting -- Amy's arms about my neck --
14Happy children in a sunbeam sitting on the ribs of wreck.
15In my life there was a picture, she that clasp'd my neck had flown;
16I was left within the shadow sitting on the wreck alone.
17Yours has been a slighter ailment, will you sicken for her sake?
18You, not you! your modern amourist is of easier, earthlier make.
19Amy loved me, Amy fail'd me, Amy was a timid child;
20But your Judith -- but your worldling -- she had never driven me wild.
21She that holds the diamond necklace dearer than the golden ring,
22She that finds a winter sunset fairer than a morn of Spring.
23She that in her heart is brooding on his briefer lease of life,
24While she vows 'till death shall part us,' she the would-be-widow wife.
25She the worldling born of worldlings -- father, mother -- be content,
26Ev'n the homely farm can teach us there is something in descent.
27Yonder in that chapel, slowly sinking now into the ground,
28Lies the warrior, my forefather, with his feet upon the hound.
29Cross'd! for once he sail'd the sea to crush the Moslem in his pride;
30Dead the warrior, dead his glory, dead the cause in which he died.
31Yet how often I and Amy in the mouldering aisle have stood,
32Gazing for one pensive moment on that founder of our blood.
33There again I stood to-day, and where of old we knelt in prayer,
34Close beneath the casement crimson with the shield of Locksley -- there,
35All in white Italian marble, looking still as if she smiled,
36Lies my Amy dead in child-birth, dead the mother, dead the child.
37Dead -- and sixty years ago, and dead her aged husband now --
38I this old white-headed dreamer stoopt and kiss'd her marble brow.
39Gone the fires of youth, the follies, furies, curses, passionate tears,
40Gone like fires and floods and earthquakes of the planet's dawning years.
41Fires that shook me once, but now to silent ashes fall'n away.
42Cold upon the dead volcano sleeps the gleam of dying day.
43Gone the tyrant of my youth, and mute below the chancel stones,
44All his virtues -- I forgive them -- black in white above his bones.
45Gone the comrades of my bivouac, some in fight against the foe,
46Some thro' age and slow diseases, gone as all on earth will go.
47Gone with whom for forty years my life in golden sequence ran,
48She with all the charm of woman, she with all the breadth of man,
49Strong in will and rich in wisdom, Edith, yet so lowly-sweet,
50Woman to her inmost heart, and woman to her tender feet,
51Very woman of very woman, nurse of ailing body and mind,
52She that link'd again the broken chain that bound me to my kind.
53Here to-day was Amy with me, while I wander'd down the coast,
54Near us Edith's holy shadow, smiling at the slighter ghost.
55Gone our sailor son thy father, Leonard early lost at sea;
56Thou alone, my boy, of Amy's kin and mine art left to me.
57Gone thy tender-natured mother, wearying to be left alone,
58Pining for the stronger heart that once had beat beside her own.
59Truth, for Truth is Truth, he worshipt, being true as he was brave;
60Good, for Good is Good, he follow'd, yet he look'd beyond the grave,
61Wiser there than you, that crowning barren Death as lord of all,
62Deem this over-tragic drama's closing curtain is the pall!
63Beautiful was death in him, who saw the death, but kept the deck,
64Saving women and their babes, and sinking with the sinking wreck,
65Gone for ever! Ever? no -- for since our dying race began,
66Ever, ever, and for ever was the leading light of man.
67Those that in barbarian burials kill'd the slave, and slew the wife,
68Felt within themselves the sacred passion of the second life.
69Indian warriors dream of ampler hunting grounds beyond the night;
70Ev'n the black Australian dying hopes he shall return, a white.
71Truth for truth, and good for good! The Good, the True, the Pure, the Just --
72Take the charm 'For ever' from them, and they crumble into dust.
73Gone the cry of 'Forward, Forward,' lost within a growing gloom;
74Lost, or only heard in silence from the silence of a tomb.
75Half the marvels of my morning, triumphs over time and space,
76Staled by frequence, shrunk by usage into commonest commonplace!
77'Forward' rang the voices then, and of the many mine was one.
78Let us hush this cry of 'Forward' till ten thousand years have gone.
79Far among the vanish'd races, old Assyrian kings would flay
80Captives whom they caught in battle -- iron-hearted victors they.
81Ages after, while in Asia, he that led the wild Moguls,
82Timur built his ghastly tower of eighty thousand human skulls,
83Then, and here in Edward's time, an age of noblest English names,
84Christian conquerors took and flung the conquer'd Christian into flames.
85Love your enemy, bless your haters, said the Greatest of the great;
86Christian love among the Churches look'd the twin of heathen hate.
87From the golden alms of Blessing man had coin'd himself a curse:
88Rome of Cæsar, Rome of Peter, which was crueller? which was worse?
89France had shown a light to all men, preach'd a Gospel, all men's good;
90Celtic Demos rose a Demon, shriek'd and slaked the light with blood.
91Hope was ever on her mountain, watching till the day begun --
92Crown'd with sunlight -- over darkness -- from the still unrisen sun.
93Have we grown at last beyond the passions of the primal clan?
94'Kill your enemy, for you hate him,' still, 'your enemy' was a man.
95Have we sunk below them? peasants maim the helpless horse, and drive
96Innocent cattle under thatch, and burn the kindlier brutes alive.
97Brutes, the brutes are not your wrongers -- burnt at midnight, found at morn,
98Twisted hard in mortal agony with their offspring, born-unborn,
99Clinging to the silent mother! Are we devils? are we men?
100Sweet St. Francis of Assisi, would that he were here again,
101He that in his Catholic wholeness used to call the very flowers
102Sisters, brothers -- and the beasts -- whose pains are hardly less than ours!
103Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! who can tell how all will end?
104Read the wide world's annals, you, and take their wisdom for your friend.
105Hope the best, but hold the Present fatal daughter of the Past,
106Shape your heart to front the hour, but dream not that the hour will last.
107Ay, if dynamite and revolver leave you courage to be wise:
108When was age so cramm'd with menace? madness? written, spoken lies?
109Envy wears the mask of Love, and, laughing sober fact to scorn,
110Cries to Weakest as to Strongest, 'Ye are equals, equal-born.'
111Equal-born? O yes, if yonder hill be level with the flat.
112Charm us, Orator, till the Lion look no larger than the Cat,
113Till the Cat thro' that mirage of overheated language loom
114Larger than the Lion, -- Demos end in working its own doom.
115Russia bursts our Indian barrier, shall we fight her? shall we yield?
116Pause! before you sound the trumpet, hear the voices from the field.
117Those three hundred millions under one Imperial sceptre now,
118Shall we hold them? shall we loose them? take the suffrage of the plow.
119Nay, but these would feel and follow Truth if only you and you,
120Rivals of realm-ruining party, when you speak were wholly true.
121Plowmen, Shepherds, have I found, and more than once, and still could find,
122Sons of God, and kings of men in utter nobleness of mind,
123Truthful, trustful, looking upward to the practised hustings-liar;
124So the Higher wields the Lower, while the Lower is the Higher.
125Here and there a cotter's babe is royal-born by right divine;
126Here and there my lord is lower than his oxen or his swine.
127Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! once again the sickening game;
128Freedom, free to slay herself, and dying while they shout her name.
129Step by step we gain'd a freedom known to Europe, known to all;
130Step by step we rose to greatness, -- thro' the tonguesters we may fall.
131You that woo the Voices -- tell them 'old experience is a fool,'
132Teach your flatter'd kings that only those who cannot read can rule.
133Pluck the mighty from their seat, but set no meek ones in their place;
134Pillory Wisdom in your markets, pelt your offal at her face.
135Tumble Nature heel o'er head, and, yelling with the yelling street,
136Set the feet above the brain and swear the brain is in the feet.
137Bring the old dark ages back without the faith, without the hope,
138Break the State, the Church, the Throne, and roll their ruins down the slope.
139Authors -- essayist, atheist, novelist, realist, rhymester, play your part,
140Paint the mortal shame of nature with the living hues of Art.
141Rip your brothers' vices open, strip your own foul passions bare;
142Down with Reticence, down with Reverence -- forward -- naked -- let them stare.
143Feed the budding rose of boyhood with the drainage of your sewer;
144Send the drain into the fountain, lest the stream should issue pure.
145Set the maiden fancies wallowing in the troughs of Zolaism, --
146Forward, forward, ay and backward, downward too into the abysm.
147Do your best to charm the worst, to lower the rising race of men;
148Have we risen from out the beast, then back into the beast again?
149Only 'dust to dust' for me that sicken at your lawless din,
150Dust in wholesome old-world dust before the newer world begin.
151Heated am I? you -- you wonder -- well, it scarce becomes mine age --
152Patience! let the dying actor mouth his last upon the stage.
153Cries of unprogressive dotage ere the dotard fall asleep?
154Noises of a current narrowing, not the music of a deep?
155Ay, for doubtless I am old, and think gray thoughts, for I am gray:
156After all the stormy changes shall we find a changeless May?
157After madness, after massacre, Jacobinism and Jacquerie,
158Some diviner force to guide us thro' the days I shall not see?
159When the schemes and all the systems, Kingdoms and Republics fall,
160Something kindlier, higher, holier -- all for each and each for all?
161All the full-brain, half-brain races, led by Justice, Love, and Truth;
162All the millions one at length with all the visions of my youth?
163All diseases quench'd by Science, no man halt, or deaf or blind;
164Stronger ever born of weaker, lustier body, larger mind?
165Earth at last a warless world, a single race, a single tongue --
166I have seen her far away -- for is not Earth as yet so young? --
167Every tiger madness muzzled, every serpent passion kill'd,
168Every grim ravine a garden, every blazing desert till'd,
169Robed in universal harvest up to either pole she smiles,
170Universal ocean softly washing all her warless Isles.
171Warless? when her tens are thousands, and her thousands millions, then --
172All her harvest all too narrow -- who can fancy warless men?
173Warless? war will die out late then. Will it ever? late or soon?
174Can it, till this outworn earth be dead as yon dead world the moon?
175Dead the new astronomy calls her. . . . On this day and at this hour,
176In this gap between the sandhills, whence you see the Locksley tower,
177Here we met, our latest meeting -- Amy -- sixty years ago --
178She and I -- the moon was falling greenish thro' a rosy glow,
179Just above the gateway tower, and even where you see her now --
180Here we stood and claspt each other, swore the seeming-deathless vow. . . .
181Dead, but how her living glory lights the hall, the dune, the grass!
182Yet the moonlight is the sunlight, and the sun himself will pass.
183Venus near her! smiling downward at this earthlier earth of ours,
184Closer on the Sun, perhaps a world of never fading flowers.
185Hesper, whom the poet call'd the Bringer home of all good things.
186All good things may move in Hesper, perfect peoples, perfect kings.
187Hesper -- Venus -- were we native to that splendour or in Mars,
188We should see the Globe we groan in, fairest of their evening stars.
189Could we dream of wars and carnage, craft and madness, lust and spite,
190Roaring London, raving Paris, in that point of peaceful light?
191Might we not in glancing heavenward on a star so silver-fair,
192Yearn, and clasp the hands and murmur, 'Would to God that we were there'?
193Forward, backward, backward, forward, in the immeasurable sea,
194Sway'd by vaster ebbs and flows than can be known to you or me.
195All the suns -- are these but symbols of innumerable man,
196Man or Mind that sees a shadow of the planner or the plan?
197Is there evil but on earth? or pain in every peopled sphere?
198Well be grateful for the sounding watchword, 'Evolution' here,
199Evolution ever climbing after some ideal good,
200And Reversion ever dragging Evolution in the mud.
201What are men that He should heed us? cried the king of sacred song;
202Insects of an hour, that hourly work their brother insect wrong,
203While the silent Heavens roll, and Suns along their fiery way,
204All their planets whirling round them, flash a million miles a day.
205Many an Ĉon moulded earth before her highest, man, was born,
206Many an Ĉon too may pass when earth is manless and forlorn,
207Earth so huge, and yet so bounded -- pools of salt, and plots of land --
208Shallow skin of green and azure -- chains of mountain, grains of sand!
209Only That which made us, meant us to be mightier by and by,
210Set the sphere of all the boundless Heavens within the human eye,
211Sent the shadow of Himself, the boundless, thro' the human soul;
212Boundless inward, in the atom, boundless outward, in the Whole.
* * * * * * *
213Here is Locksley Hall, my grandson, here the lion-guarded gate.
214Not to-night in Locksley Hall -- to-morrow -- you, you come so late.
215Wreck'd -- your train -- or all but wreck'd? a shatter'd wheel? a vicious boy!
216Good, this forward, you that preach it, is it well to wish you joy?
217Is it well that while we range with Science, glorying in the Time,
218City children soak and blacken soul and sense in city slime?
219There among the glooming alleys Progress halts on palsied feet,
220Crime and hunger cast our maidens by the thousand on the street.
221There the Master scrimps his haggard sempstress of her daily bread,
222There a single sordid attic holds the living and the dead.
223There the smouldering fire of fever creeps across the rotted floor,
224And the crowded couch of incest in the warrens of the poor.
225Nay, your pardon, cry your 'forward,' yours are hope and youth, but I --
226Eighty winters leave the dog too lame to follow with the cry,
227Lame and old, and past his time, and passing now into the night;
228Yet I would the rising race were half as eager for the light.
229Light the fading gleam of Even? light the glimmer of the dawn?
230Aged eyes may take the growing glimmer for the gleam withdrawn.
231Far away beyond her myriad coming changes earth will be
232Something other than the wildest modern guess of you and me.
233Earth may reach her earthly-worst, or if she gain her earthly-best,
234Would she find her human offspring this ideal man at rest?
235Forward then, but still remember how the course of Time will swerve,
236Crook and turn upon itself in many a backward streaming curve.
237Not the Hall to-night, my grandson! Death and Silence hold their own.
238Leave the Master in the first dark hour of his last sleep alone.
239Worthier soul was he than I am, sound and honest, rustic Squire,
240Kindly landlord, boon companion -- youthful jealousy is a liar.
241Cast the poison from your bosom, oust the madness from your brain.
242Let the trampled serpent show you that you have not lived in vain.
243Youthful! youth and age are scholars yet but in the lower school,
244Nor is he the wisest man who never proved himself a fool.
245Yonder lies our young sea-village -- Art and Grace are less and less:
246Science grows and Beauty dwindles -- roofs of slated hideousness!
247There is one old Hostel left us where they swing the Locksley shield,
248Till the peasant cow shall butt the 'Lion passant' from his field.
249Poor old Heraldry, poor old History, poor old Poetry, passing hence,
250In the common deluge drowning old political common-sense!
251Poor old voice of eighty crying after voices that have fled!
252All I loved are vanish'd voices, all my steps are on the dead.
253All the world is ghost to me, and as the phantom disappears,
254Forward far and far from here is all the hope of eighty years.
* * * * *
255In this Hostel -- I remember -- I repent it o'er his grave --
256Like a clown -- by chance he met me -- I refused the hand he gave.
257From that casement where the trailer mantles all the mouldering bricks --
258I was then in early boyhood, Edith but a child of six --
259While I shelter'd in this archway from a day of driving showers --
260Peept the winsome face of Edith like a flower among the flowers.
261Here to-night! the Hall to-morrow, when they toll the Chapel bell!
262Shall I hear in one dark room a wailing, 'I have loved thee well.'
263Then a peal that shakes the portal -- one has come to claim his bride,
264Her that shrank, and put me from her, shriek'd, and started from my side --
265Silent echoes! You, my Leonard, use and not abuse your day,
266Move among your people, know them, follow him who led the way,
267Strove for sixty widow'd years to help his homelier brother men,
268Served the poor, and built the cottage, raised the school, and drain'd the fen.
269Hears he now the Voice that wrong'd him? who shall swear it cannot be?
270Earth would never touch her worst, were one in fifty such as he.
271Ere she gain her Heavenly-best, a God must mingle with the game:
272Nay, there may be those about us whom we neither see nor name,
273Felt within us as ourselves, the Powers of Good, the Powers of Ill,
274Strowing balm, or shedding poison in the fountains of the Will.
275Follow you the Star that lights a desert pathway, yours or mine.
276Forward, till you see the highest Human Nature is divine.
277Follow Light, and do the Right -- for man can half-control his doom --
278Till you find the deathless Angel seated in the vacant tomb.
279Forward, let the stormy moment fly and mingle with the Past.
280I that loathed, have come to love him. Love will conquer at the last.
281Gone at eighty, mine own age, and I and you will bear the pall;
282Then I leave thee Lord and Master, latest Lord of Locksley Hall.
1] Hallam Tennyson comments in the notes (402):
First published in 1886, and dedicated to my Mother, partly because it seemed to my Father that the two Locksley Halls were likely to be in the future two of the most historically interesting of his poems, as descriptive of the tone of the age at two distinct periods of his life: partly because the following four lines were written immediately after the death of my brother, and described his chief characteristics: The poet says the following (402-03):
Truth, for Truth is Truth, he worshipt, being true as he was brace;
Good, for Good is Good, he follow'd, yet he look'd beyond the grave!
Truth for Truth, and Good for Good! The Good, the True, the Pure, the Just!
Take the charm "For ever" from them and they crumble into dust.
A dramatic poem, and the Dramatis Personæ are imaginary. Since it is so much the fashion in these days to regard each poem and story as a story of the poet's life, or part of it, may I not be allowed to remind my readers of the possibility, that some event which comes to the poet's knowledge, some hint flashed from another mind, some thought or feeling arising in his own, or some mood coming -- he knows not whence or how -- may strike a chord from which a poem evolves its life, and that this is other eyes may bear small relation to the thought or fact or feeling to which the poem owes its birth, whether the tenor be dramatic or given as a parable?
Gladstone says: "The method in the old Locksley Hall and the new is the same. In each the maker is outside his work, and in each we have to deal with it as strictly `impersonal'" (Nineteenth Century, Jan. 1887).
13-16] Tennyson notes that "These four lines were the nucleus of the poem, and were written fifty years ago" (403).
42] Hallam Tennyson notes, "My father always quoted this line as the most imaginative in the poem" (403).
95] peasants maim the helpless horse: Tennyson notes, "The modern Irish cruelties" (403).
121-24] Tennyson notes that these four verses "show that the hero does not (as has been said) by any means dislike the democracy" (403).
157] Jacquerie: Tennyson notes, "Originally a revolt in 1358 against the Picardy nobles; and afterwards applied to insurrections of the mob. This and the eight following verses show that he is not a pessimist" (403).
185] Bringer home: Tennyson cites Sappho.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Ballads and Other Poems, Vol. VI of The Works of Tennyson, ed. Hallam Lord Tennyson, annotated By Alfred Lord Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1908): 279-304.
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1999.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/13
Other poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson