Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ulysses - Personal Response

Alfred Tennyson did not originate from a relatively underwhelming family. In fact, due to his father, Lord Alfred, he was a direct descendent of one of the most successful kings of his time, King Edward the third. Because Tennyson’s father George Clayton, was comparatively fortunate, Alfred was able to embark on his road to writing poetry at a very young age. Throughout his life, Alfred wrote several influential poems that would eventually shape the poetry of the 19th century. One of his most famous poems, Ulysses is not only inspiring but, unlike many other works of his time, it has many different meanings and sub-meanings, which can enhance as well as distort the piece. In order to achieve the utmost understanding of the poem one must master the art of being able to differentiate between what is meant to be taken literally and figuratively. Therefore Tennyson can arguably be one of the best poets in history due to his ability to effectively maneuver about through the use of hidden and indirect meanings.

In the literal sense, the poem expresses the shamelessness of not exploring the world’s mysteries and instead remaining in the comfort of ones own ‘home’. After indicating the characters age by declaring he is but an, “idle king,” whom is, “matched with an aged wife,” he goes on to shed light on his past experiences such as the Trojan War. But what is found to be most interesting is the segment where he states, “I am a part of all that I have met.” This signifies that, through his experiences he has been shaped into someone who metaphorically carries a piece of the people, places, and situations he has seen.

The poem Ulysses contains an overwhelming amount of substance. Throughout the poem Alfred describes the tendency of the elderly in which they assume that they can no longer be, in a sense, an effective member of society due to age, lack of physical or mental health, and determination. However, Lord Alfred proceeds to turn this phenomenon on its head by stating that along with age, comes knowledge and wisdom, which in turn makes one all the more potent when striving for a goal before, “the long day wanes.” He continues encouragement by writing, “it’s not too late to seek a newer world,” and later reinforces it by saying his fellow peers are, “strong in will.” Regardless of the objective, however, Alfred maintains that one must be resolute in attaining success and must not let anything hold him back.

Altogether Ulysses inspires as well as allows it’s audience to ponder the true meanings of the existence of all living and non-living things. Focusing on intent rather then results, Alfred concludes his poem with the statement, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” which creates an almost recreational feeling of conquering new lands whether that be physically, linguistically, scientifically or mathematically. Hence the explosion of new ideas and thoughts in the coming years after people, similar to Tennyson, inspired others to explore the furthest most reaches of the globe.

In conclusion, Ulysses, in a way, reverses the common-man’s notion that the increasingly one may be in age, his productivity of exploration, of unseen and uncharted lands, will be hindered accordingly. Lord Alfred Tennyson has literally and metaphorically disagreed to the perception, to the point of crediting age with, in fact, a sense of accomplishment and achieving credible hierarchy. Nevertheless, the form in which the poem was written was essential in providing the sense of cohesiveness between seniority and wisdom. And if one thing is certain it would be the fact that Lord Alfred Tennyson didn’t lack any experience or wisdom when he wrote this poem.

Awesome Signing Out.

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