Amy Replies

Written upon learning that Tennyson’s Locksley Hall (or its successor, Loxley), is now “occupied by a Staffordshire County Council special school for boys with learning difficulties.”

As you cease to babble, man, about my forehead and my cheek,
Once my ear finds surcease from the wordy cataract you speak,

Then I turn my thought to the future; I peer far as an eye can see,
And I trace successive branches of our august family tree.

With each generation, daughters appear less bound to duty,
Wriggling free of what you'd call their debt to men--their beauty.

I watch the public purse fill with funds for a war on poverty.
The revenue, from taxes on this very kind of property.

Loxley Hall, a council school for teenagers with special needs.
That is the vision, cousin, I descry once your voice recedes.

Locksley! our fruitful land, our ivied walls, our portion of the shore,
Where curlews cry and moorlands meet the hollowed ocean's roar.

My vision conjures the final squire, possessions in his boot.
A receipt for his old feudal seat has made his tax bill moot.

An administrator takes his place, perhaps a she or a them,
Born in the eastern lands, I imagine, whence you say you come.

Not in vain does the future beckon us; onward must we move.
The great world spins forever and it's our burden to improve.

Answering “Locksley Hall,” although Tennyson may also disparage his narrator. See also: three endings for Christabel; “For Gerard Manley Hopkins

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.