Poem 5: “Locksley Hall”

Tennyson’s "Locksley Hall" isn’t the Victorian poem I like the most, but it is the one that gave me the publication bug. For a survey class, I was asked to write an analytical paper on something we’d read. I had gotten into the habit of looking up every mythological reference. Early in the poem, the speaker explains:

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.

I spun the references to Orion and the Pleiads into an explanation of how the mythical figure’s life parallelled that of the speaker. When the graded paper was returned, Professor Peter Graham had written in the end comment that he thought the paper was publishable. Two years later (damn you, slow print publication world), I had my first vita line: 

"Tennyson’s ‘Locksley Hall.’" Explicator 44.2 (Winter 1986): 23–24.

It’s one of those papers that I reread and wonder whether that was really me. I guess my voice and style have developed a good bit since then. But one thing hasn’t changed—I still want to see my name in print. A lot. Thank you Tennyson (and Dr. Graham).