Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson Poem Analysis Lines
“Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Poem Analysis Lines 1 -5: Ulysses is tired of life at home, where all he does is spend time with his wife and attempt to govern a “savage race”. He describes his situation as “idle, ” “still hearth, ” “barren, ” and “savage, ” all carrying negative connotations. Line 11: To become famous is to “become a name”. Line 16: “drunk delight” is use of taste imagery to explain the thrill of battle with his peers. Line 18: “I am part of all that I have met” expresses the basic theme that Ulysses’ experiences have broadened his horizons, expand his sense of self.
“Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Poem Analysis Line 23: “To rust unburnished, ” or unpolished, and “not to shine in use” is sight imagery used to contrast two ways of living. Lines 22 -32: Ulysses feels he has wasted his life here; no matter how much he has lived it, it has not been enough. He feels the little life he has left is precious, and he will not waste it. He longs to pursue knowledge and to experience as much as possible. Line 33: The indentation marks a new major section. Unrhymed sections of poems are called verse paragraphs.
“Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Poem Analysis Line 35: “discerning” means to show outstanding judgment; here it has the connotation that Ulysses is wise. Lines 33 -43: Telemachus seems to respect convention; he willingly does what is expected of him. Ulysses imagines him governing with a “slow prudence” and describes him as “blameless. ” Ulysses, on the other hand, is spontaneous, adventurous, resourceful, and unconventional. Telemachus is a symbol of the ordered and domestic Victorian. He feels he will worship the gods appropriately and try to civilize his subjects.
“Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Poem Analysis Line 48: Ulysses compares his “mariners” experiences with “thunder” (bad experiences) and “sunshine” (good experiences) using metaphor. Lines 50 -53: Ulysses feels he will gain honor by doing “some work of noble note. ” Line 53: Neptune, god of the sea, put a curse on Ulysses for putting out the Cyclops’ eye. Don’t mess with the gods (allusion). Line 60: Sailing symbolizes activity, adventure, the journey.
“Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Poem Analysis Lines 58 -61: These lines suggest the central theme of the poem: Ulysses calls for action and asserts his determination to continuing to pursue adventure. Line 64: Achilles could symbolize Tennyson’s lost friend, Arthur Hallam. Lines 65 -70: The theme expressed in these lines is that time may rob us of strength, but we must remain true to ourselves and never stop seeking adventures, and more importantly, knowledge.
“Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Poem Analysis Line 70: Tennyson uses iambic pentameter to emphasize this with his famous last line, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. ” Remember iambic pentameter is a line which employs five verse feet (ten syllables) with each foot being an iamb (an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable).