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Locksley Hall

Alfred Tennyson

Comrades, leave me here a little,
While as yet 'tis early morn, --
Leave me here, and when you want me,
Sound upon the bugle horn.

'Tis 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 through the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies
Tangled in a silver braid.

Here about the beach I wandered,
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 burnished 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 color and a light,
As I have seen the rosy red
Flushing in the northern night.

And she turned, -- 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 turned 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,
Passed in music out of sight.

Many a morning on the moorland
Did we hear the copses ring,
And her whisper thronged my pulses
With the fulness of the spring.

Many an evening by the water
Did we watch the stately ships,
And our spirits rushed 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 over wrought, --
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,
Though I slew thee with my hand.

Better thou and I were lying,
Hidden from the heart's disgrace,
Rolled 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 straitened 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?
From my bosom, though my heart
Be at the root.

Never! though my mortal summers
To such length of years should come
As the many-wintered 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 perished;
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 forevermore.

Comfort? comfort scorned 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 widowed marriage-pillows,
To the tears that thou wilt weep.

Thou shalt hear the "Never, never,"
Whispered 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;
'Tis 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 suffered" --
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 barred with gold,
And opens but to golden keys.

Every gate is thronged 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 rolled in vapor,
And the winds are laid with sound.

But the jingling of the guinea
Helps the hurt that honor 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 rained 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 through the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbbed no longer,
And the battle flags were furled
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 triumphed ere my passion
Sweeping through me left me dry,
Left me with a 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 through the ages
One increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened
With the process of the suns.

What is that to him that reaps
Not harvest of his youthful joys,
Though the deep heart of existence
Beat forever 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 mouldered string?
I am shamed through 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, matched 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-starred;
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-blossomed 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, cramped no longer,
Shall have scope and breathing-space;
I will take some savage woman,
She shall rear my dusky race.

Iron-jointed, supple-sinewed,
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 forever
Down the ringing grooves of change.

Through 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 through 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 vapor 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.

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