'Ulysses' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
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It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees.All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea.I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life!Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
>From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone.He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas.My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices.Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Ulysses: A Masterpiece of Poetic Expression
What makes a poem great? Is it the use of language that captivates the reader's imagination, or is it the themes and ideas that are conveyed through its lines? Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses" is a perfect example of how poetry can blend these two elements to create a masterpiece that has endured the test of time.
"Ulysses" is a soliloquy that takes us into the mind of the ancient Greek hero, Ulysses, who has returned home to Ithaca after his long and perilous journey. He is now an old man, and he finds himself restless and dissatisfied with his mundane life. He longs for the adventures of his youth and the thrill of discovery. He thinks of his journeys to unknown lands and the people he met along the way. He feels an irresistible urge to set sail again and explore the world, even if it means risking his life. Ulysses declares that he will not "rust in [his] inaction" and that he will continue to seek new experiences until the end of his days.
"Ulysses" deals with several themes that are relevant to human experience. One of these themes is the desire for adventure and exploration. Ulysses embodies the archetype of the adventurer, the one who seeks the unknown and the unpredictable. He is driven by a restless spirit that refuses to be contained by the confines of a settled life. His yearning for adventure is not just a personal desire, but it is also a metaphor for the human desire for exploration and discovery. Ulysses' words echo the sentiments of many people who feel trapped in their everyday lives and long for something beyond the routine.
Another theme that is present in "Ulysses" is the tension between age and youth. Ulysses is an old man who is aware of his mortality. He knows that his days are numbered, and he feels a sense of urgency to make the most of his remaining time. He contrasts his current state with the memories of his youth when he was strong and full of life. He longs to relive those days and to recapture the vitality he once had. This tension between age and youth is a universal theme that is relevant to all people who grow old and face their mortality.
Finally, "Ulysses" deals with the idea of leadership and the responsibilities that come with it. Ulysses is not just a hero; he is also a king. He feels the weight of his duties and the burden of being responsible for his people. He acknowledges that his quest for adventure may be selfish, but he also sees it as a way of inspiring his followers and showing them that life is about taking risks and pursuing one's dreams. His words are not just a personal manifesto; they are also a call to action for those who look up to him.
Language and Style
The language and style of "Ulysses" are some of the reasons why this poem stands out as a masterpiece of poetic expression. Tennyson's use of language is both elegant and powerful. His words create vivid images that transport the reader to a different time and place. He uses metaphors and allusions to classical mythology to add depth and richness to the poem. For example, when Ulysses says, "I cannot rest from travel: I will drink / Life to the lees," he is using a metaphor of wine to describe the fullness of life that he wants to experience. This allusion to wine is not just a literary device; it is also a reference to the Greek god Dionysus, who was associated with wine and revelry.
The style of "Ulysses" is also noteworthy. The poem is written in blank verse, which means that it does not rhyme, but it has a rhythmic structure that gives it a musical quality. The poem is divided into three sections, each with its own distinct tone and mood. The first section is introspective and reflective, as Ulysses contemplates his life and his desire for adventure. The second section is more assertive and forceful, as Ulysses declares his intention to set sail again. The final section is more philosophical and contemplative, as Ulysses reflects on the value of life and the legacy he wants to leave behind.
"Ulysses" is a poem that can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the reader's perspective. Some readers may see it as a celebration of adventure and the spirit of exploration. Others may see it as a critique of Ulysses' selfishness and his neglect of his duties as a king. Still, others may see it as a reflection on the human condition and the tension between our desire for adventure and our need for stability and security.
One interpretation of "Ulysses" is that it is a meditation on the meaning of life. Ulysses is aware of his mortality, and he realizes that his time on earth is limited. He feels an urgency to make the most of his remaining time, to drink life to the lees. He wants to experience all that life has to offer, both the good and the bad. He knows that life is not always easy or pleasant, but he sees it as a challenge to be embraced rather than a burden to be endured. His words can be seen as an encouragement to live life to the fullest, to take risks and pursue our dreams, even if it means facing adversity.
Another interpretation of "Ulysses" is that it is a critique of the status quo. Ulysses is dissatisfied with his life in Ithaca, where he is expected to be a responsible king and lead a settled life. He finds this existence boring and unfulfilling, and he longs for the excitement and adventure of his youth. His words can be seen as a challenge to the conventional wisdom that tells us to play it safe and avoid taking risks. He is urging us to break free from the constraints of a settled life and to embrace the unknown and the unpredictable.
Finally, "Ulysses" can be interpreted as a commentary on the human condition. Ulysses is a hero who has faced many challenges and overcome many obstacles in his life. He has seen the best and the worst of humanity, and he has come to the realization that life is a journey, not a destination. His words can be seen as a reflection on the human experience, with all its triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows. He is urging us to embrace life fully and to accept the challenges that come our way, knowing that they are part of what makes us human.
"Ulysses" is a masterpiece of poetic expression that has stood the test of time. Tennyson's use of language and style creates a vivid and powerful image of Ulysses, the ancient Greek hero who embodies the archetype of the adventurer. The poem deals with themes that are relevant to human experience, such as the desire for adventure and exploration, the tension between age and youth, and the responsibilities of leadership. The poem's language and style are both elegant and powerful, creating a musical quality that adds to its beauty. "Ulysses" is a poem that can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the reader's perspective. It can be seen as a meditation on the meaning of life, a critique of the status quo, or a commentary on the human condition. Whatever its interpretation, "Ulysses" remains a timeless work of art that continues to inspire and captivate readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Ulysses, the classic poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time. This poem is a monologue spoken by the Greek hero Ulysses, who is also known as Odysseus. The poem is a reflection of Ulysses' thoughts and feelings as he contemplates his life and his desire to continue exploring the world. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of the poem, and how they contribute to its enduring appeal.
The poem is divided into four stanzas, each containing a different theme. The first stanza introduces us to Ulysses, who is now an old man. He is tired of ruling his kingdom and longs for adventure. He speaks of his desire to leave his kingdom and explore the world once again. He says, "I cannot rest from travel: I will drink life to the lees." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Ulysses expresses his desire to live life to the fullest.
The second stanza focuses on Ulysses' memories of his past adventures. He speaks of the battles he fought and the places he visited. He says, "I am a part of all that I have met," which shows that his experiences have shaped who he is. He also speaks of his comrades who have died, and how he misses them. This stanza is a reflection of Ulysses' nostalgia for his past adventures and the people he shared them with.
The third stanza is a call to action. Ulysses speaks of his desire to leave his kingdom and set sail once again. He says, "Come, my friends, 'tis not too late to seek a newer world." This line is a call to adventure, and Ulysses is urging his comrades to join him on his journey. He speaks of the thrill of exploring new lands and the excitement of facing new challenges. This stanza is a reflection of Ulysses' desire to continue living life to the fullest.
The final stanza is a reflection on Ulysses' legacy. He speaks of his desire to be remembered as a great adventurer, and not just as a king. He says, "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." This line is a reflection of Ulysses' determination to continue exploring and living life to the fullest, even in old age. It is a call to action for future generations to follow in his footsteps and continue exploring the world.
The themes of the poem are universal and timeless. The desire for adventure, the nostalgia for the past, the call to action, and the legacy we leave behind are all themes that resonate with people of all ages and cultures. The poem speaks to the human desire to live life to the fullest and to leave a lasting impact on the world.
The structure of the poem is also noteworthy. The poem is written in blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter. This gives the poem a natural flow and rhythm, which adds to its appeal. The use of enjambment, where a line of poetry continues onto the next line without a pause, also adds to the natural flow of the poem. The poem is also divided into four stanzas, each containing a different theme. This structure allows the poem to explore different aspects of Ulysses' character and his desire for adventure.
The language of the poem is rich and evocative. Tennyson uses vivid imagery to describe Ulysses' adventures and his desire for exploration. He also uses metaphors and allusions to Greek mythology to add depth and meaning to the poem. For example, Ulysses is compared to the Greek god Apollo, who is the god of music, poetry, and prophecy. This comparison adds to the idea that Ulysses is a larger-than-life figure who is destined for greatness.
In conclusion, Ulysses is a timeless poem that speaks to the human desire for adventure and the legacy we leave behind. The themes, structure, and language of the poem all contribute to its enduring appeal. Tennyson's use of vivid imagery, metaphors, and allusions to Greek mythology add depth and meaning to the poem. The poem is a reflection of Ulysses' character and his desire to continue exploring the world, even in old age. It is a call to action for future generations to follow in his footsteps and continue living life to the fullest.
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