Summary

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

At the beginning of the poem, an unnamed speaker asks his friends to leave him alone for a bit so that he can ruminate on his past, the time he spent at Locksley Hall, where he is now visiting again. He reflects on his youthful years spent in this place as well as the time he spent with his young love, his cousin, Amy, here. He says that they were in love, and they spent all their time together, but then, the "shallow-hearted" Amy rejected the narrator due to her "father's threat" and perhaps her mother's "shrewish tongue." She married someone else, someone with more money (making her "shallow"), and this new man is "[gross] in nature," a veritable "clown" in the narrator's eyes. He realizes, however, that Amy must act the good wife to this man, and it makes him feel disgusted. He curses the "social wants" that lead people away from their true feelings. He wrestles with his feelings, wondering if it is possible to love her still the way he knew her then. The narrator goes on to consider the babies that Amy will have with this man and how they will demand all her attention.

The narrator goes on to describe how he "must mix with action, lest [he] wither by despair." He is angry, and he had wished to die, but he tries to move on and consider the future. He imagines that "the heavens [will] fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails": he predicts that the "heavens [will] fill with shouting" and nations will wage war on one another, all due to people's greed and focus on money and things rather than people and feelings. Eventually, however, he believes that "common sense" will prevail and a "Parliament of man" will be created in peace. He predicts the decline in the importance of the individual and the rise in the importance of the world as a whole.

He hears his friends calling for him to come—they do not understand him—and he expresses his belief that "Woman is the lesser man." In other words, women are weaker, and their emotions are more frail than men's. He thinks of his home in the Orient, where he was a "trampled orphan, and a selfish uncle's ward." Despite his hardships, he describes that place as a "Paradise." His imagination is rekindled by his memories of his home, and he feels newly inspired. Now, he feels as though he can leave Locksley Hall and all its sad memories behind him, and he hopes that a thunderbolt might "fall" on the place and destroy it.

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