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 :-
- first his rejection of his own countrymen or kingdom.
- recalling his glorious/ heroic past.
- recognition of his son.
- 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.