Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson was the most renowned poet of the victorian age.His work includes “In Memoriam”, “The Charge Of the Light Brigade”and Idylls of the King”. Born in England in 1809, Alfred Tennyson began writing poetry as a boy. He was first published in 1827, but it was not until the 1840s that his work received regular public acclaim. His “In Memoriam”(1850), which contains the line “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Tennyson  was Queen Victoria’s poet laureate from 1850 until his death in 1892.


‘Ulysses’ is written by Alfred Tennyson in 1833 and revised for publication in 1842. The figure Ulysses  is drawn by ancient hero of Homer’s Odyssey , ‘Ulysses’ is the Roman figure of the Greek ‘Odysseus’. Also inspired from Medieval hero of Dante’s Inferno.

In Homer’s Odyssey it tells about his final sea voyage after killing the suitor of his wife Penelope. Whereas in Dante’s Inferno his figure tragically dies while sailing for the thirst of knowledge.

In’ Ulysses’ Tennyson combines these two accounts and gives a speech after returning to Ithaca (Ulysses’s kingdom) and resuming his administrative responsibilities and how he decided his final voyage.

 In this poem the character has to go through four emotional stages :-

  1. first his rejection of his own countrymen or kingdom.
  2. recalling his glorious/ heroic past.
  3. recognition of his son.
  4. planning for another voyage.

In First para

The poem begins by telling us that it is not even useful for an ideal  king like him  to sit or paired with aged wife to makes laws , allot punishment and rewards for those people who don’t even know him.

Still hearth ‘metaphor used by poet in second line  reveals a lot about ‘Ulysses’ emotion. It state that he was feeling low because of the death of his spirit, As his spirit associated with travelling , sailing  and adventure. And he describe his situation as a fireplace where there is no fire remain.

‘Match’d with an aged wife’ reveals that because of such a long separation he  no more found his wife interesting.

‘Savage Race’ he calls his own countrymen uncivilised and savage  who don’t know anything except eating, drinking and making merry.

This first para shows his frustration and irritation because he was trying hard to suppress his desire instead of that he was forced to do his administrative responsibilities.

In Second Para

In this para Ulysses recalls his past which was very heroic, victorious and full of adventure and this gives him strength to come out of the frustration and optimistic view about future.

This para depicts how restless his spirit is by  stating that he cannot take break from adventure . He tells us that he will enjoy life to the fullest and while recalling he says he has had a lot of good times and bad too ,sometime with those who loved him and sometimes alone , both in the dry land and while sailing through stormy weather.

‘I am became a name’  it refers that Ulysses become so famous for travelling and adventure that others started associating his name “ulysses” with travelling.

Ulysses tells us that he’s visited a different kind of cities , with different manners, weather, governments, etc after experience all these he feels honour. He always rome with a passion to learn something new in his heart.He also describe about the time that he spent in the battle field where he drunk in delight with his fellow members.

Later he compares his life or experience to an Arch. Where he was standing on one side of the arch with his experience and on others side there is twinkling untravelled discovery world which only fades away when he moved from his present situation .He also state that it is very dull to pause and then he likens himself to some kinds of metal which is useful and shiny but it will rusts if nobody uses it.According to him life is more about more than just “breathing” and going through the action ; it’s about having experience and adventure.

Last part also continue to tell us about experience and  his passion for adventure by stating that even if he get multiple life that wouldn’t be enough for him to do all things he wants. Though he became very old but his longingness for travelling there “Little remains..” . Each and every hour  of life  that saved from death , brings him a new experience , he wants most of  his time what’s left for fulfilling his desire  as he state that there might be 3yrs only. “… like a Sinking star” state his ambiguous  which refers he wants to chase after knowledge or soak in a knowledge and experience.

In Third Para 

Ulysses introduced his beloved son, Telemachus who seems the most appropriate successor of the crown. He appreciate him as a smart person , who is less restless and patient one to make good decision  for uncivilised people and also know how to make good use of them. Later also he tells about his qualification also he will not fail at doing things for people and respect to the god.

“When I am Gone…” not sure whether he talks about his death or voyage also show the element of detachment  in their  relation.

In Fourth Para

Ulysses shifts our attention from his son to the port of Ithaca, where he tells us a ship preparing  to set sail  and his plan for last voyage. He suggests that even though old people are respected , they also have responsibilities.He observes the sunset and the arrival of night , but seems like he’s thinking about his own death as well.

He address his friends by telling that it’s never too late to go in search of new lands.”To sail beyond the bath” means he wants to sail really, really far away and beyond the horizon of the known universe until he dies.

“Happy isele” refers to the  islands of the blessed , a place (Heaven) where big- time Greek heroes like Achilles  enjoyed lives after they died.

Ulysses yet again tells us that even though he and his sailor are old but there’s enough left to go a little further. They’re old and broken , but they still have the will to seek out and face challenges without giving up.

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”means that they are strong because of their will to strive.


The Gardener by RabIndranath Tagore

RabIndranath Tagore

The Gardener  is a collection of 85 poems, which was written by RabIndranath Tagore .He is an Indian poet and philosopher born on May 7th , 1861 in Calcutta, India. He started to write at the age of eight and published his first book  of poem at the age of 16. He was sent to England for formal schooling , he also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals for education.He wrote in Bengal and in 1913 he was the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize.He wrote novels, short stories, plays, essay, and he was involved with political and personal themes. He died on August 7th when he was 80 in Calcutta.

Tagore’s Poetry

Tagore successfully wrote in all literary genres, he was first of all a poet. His poetry was influenced by traditional Indian poetry . His early poetry was especially influenced by the devotional Indian poets of Kabir and Ramprasad. Later he was influenced by the Baoul tradition, which is a tradition of traditional Bengali folk music, known for its simple ballads to union with the beloved.  In Tagore’s work there is a strong mystical element, his poetry contain his own unique creative spirit. His poetry also reflect beauty’s appreciation as an important part of life.He wrote poetry throughout his life. In the Evening of his life when he suffered various illness , he became concerned with the theme of man’s immortality and death.

Tagore influence many poets and literary figures. Early admirers included W.B.Yeats and Romain Rolland.His poetry was also appreciated by Spanish poets such a noble laureates : Gabriella  Mistral, Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz.


“The Gardener”

“The Gardener” is a song filled with the idea of love and unity of humanity with Universe. It was one of the best Tagore’s poetry books, also known as the book of love. In this verses, he’s not just talking about a love for a woman, but also focus on the love in general, towards men, Earth, world, life. The love he feels for a woman is only a cause for him writing magical verses in which he glorifies life, while physical and emotional love is only one of its wonderful elements.

The lyrics reveal that the poet is obsessed by the lust because he is keen on showing the love, yet giving up on his intention. He is also afraid that her beloved won’t return his feelings, but he is also afraid of leaving her because she could think of him as a coward.

The reason for his fear is the difference between him and the one he loves, enhanced by their different attitudes towards the concept of freedom. As the poet loiter for freedom and all of her magic, his loved one is afraid of the freedom, as she is used to the safety of the bird cage, comfort of renowned, not recognising the beauty of the outer world.

The caged bird figure is a clear symbol of walls who people use for dividing themselves, fearing the unknown, and not realizing that the true beauty and joy of living is found out of those walls. Symbol of freedom, standing beside the motif of love is the most expressive one used in this poem.

On the motives of two birds poet is talking about the love for life and the mutual love among the partners as well, although the poem itself carries the idea about impossible love.The love is becoming impossible because of the different attitudes about life, resulting as alternative lifestyles.

There is no outer factor for making this love impossible, she became that way from the impossibility of subjects to break their self-made walls around them.This poem shows the importance of symbols in Tagore’s poetry, who builds the beauty of his lyrics and uniqueness of expression using them as a subtraction.


Characters analysis

The Gardiner – a servant, a poem willing to serve a woman he is madly in love with because that is the true purpose of love, giving your whole self without expecting anything in return. He wants to spend all of his time with her, but he is scared of showing her his true feelings as there is a risk for him to get ridiculed.

He is also afraid she doesn’t feel the same about him, yet he is unable of leaving her. Is there any the larger prison then self-made walls out of feeling powerless?