Explication of Ulysses Essay

This essay has a total of 701 words and 4 pages.

Explication of Ulysses

Explication Of Ulysses


In this poem, Tennyson reworks the figure of Ulysses by drawing on the ancient hero of
Homer's Odyssey. Homer's Ulysses learns from a prophecy that he will take a final sea
voyage after killing the suitors of his wife Penelope. Ulysses finds himself restless in
Ithaca and driven by "the longing I had to gain experience of the world".

Ulysses says that there is little point in his staying home "by this still hearth" with
his old wife, handing out rewards and punishments for all of his subjects who live in his
kingdom.

Still speaking to himself he proclaims that he "cannot rest from travel" but feels
required to live to the fullest and swallow every last drop of life. He has enjoyed all
his experiences as a sailor who travels the seas, and he considers himself a model for
everyone who wanders and roams the earth. His travels have exposed him to many different
types of people and ways of living. They have also exposed him to the "delight of battle"
while fighting the Trojan War with his men. Ulysses declares that his travels and
encounters have shaped who he is: "I am a part of all that I have met," he says. And it is
only when he is traveling that the "margin" of the world that he has not yet traveled
shrink and fade, and stop to push him.

Ulysses declares that it is boring to stay in one place, and that to remain at a
standstill is to waste rather than to flourish; to stay in one place is to pretend that
all there is to life is the simple act of breathing, whereas he knows that in fact life
contains much freshness, and he longs to encounter this. His spirit yearns constantly for
new experiences that will broaden his life; he wishes "to follow knowledge like a sinking
star" and forever grow in knowledge and in learning.

Ulysses now speaks to an unidentified audience concerning his son, Telemachus, who will
act as his successor while the great hero goes on with his travels: he says, "This is my
son, mine own Telemachus, to whom I leave the scepter and the isle." He speaks highly but
also arrogantly of his son's capabilities as a ruler, praising his care, dedication, and
devotion to the gods. Telemachus will do his work of governing the island while Ulysses
will do his work of traveling the seas: "He works his work, I mine."

In the final stanza, Ulysses addresses the mariners with whom he has worked, traveled, and
weathered life's storms over many years. He declares that although they are both old, they
still have the potential to do something good and honorable before "the long day wanes."
He encourages them to make use of their old age because "'tis not too late to seek a newer
world." He declares that his goal is to sail onward "beyond the sunset" until his death.
Maybe, he suggests, they may even reach the "Happy Isles," or the paradise of eternal
summer described in Greek mythology where great heroes like the warrior Achilles were
Continues for 2 more pages >>