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Running Head: ULYSSES

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Abstract: This paper will help in the understanding in the poem Ulysses, written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in 1883. The main character Ulysses is the hero from Homer’s work the Odyssey. The poem refers to Ulysses after the fighting has stopped and he has returned home.

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Through the poem Ulysses there is a major theme which is expressed by the main character that he Ulysses even though done with the days of war and conquest, still has a desire to be on the move and imparting himself on new and distant lands. “Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” (Kirzner and Mandell 2010, p. 1064) He has a passion to lead and grow people make them better through his experiences, “I am part of all that I have met.” (Kirzner and Mandell 2010, p. 1063) Ulysses knows his time may be coming but his legacy will live on through his prior victories and his son Telemachus continuing on from where his father left off. Maybe much of the talk is an embellishment of his accounts and words. The poem is a dramatic monologue that gives the reader insight to his inner thoughts and how he feels about himself and how he believes the world perceives him.
Ulysses was wise in war and wise in the ways of life, at least that is what he believes. This is seen in many passages throughout the poem, and he knows to keep his legacy in tact he must give the tools to his son to carry on his traditions. Ulysses knows that he has been of great impact on many people in many places but as he goes so does his glory and works that is why his son is such an important piece in his life. That is what he wants us to believe anyways; only a minor section of the poem is directed towards his son. “Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill this labor.” (Kirzner and Mandell 2010, p. 1063) The lines that are speak about Telemachus are not very complimentary so you can tell he thinks very highly of himself and has only a little faith in his son’s ability to carry on his great name. “Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere of common duties, descent not to fail.” (Kirzner and Mandell 2010, p. 1064)
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To Ulysses his name and his honor were the most important things. He wants to constantly be moving forward but often living in the past as well. Reminiscing of the good old days with other hero’s such as, Achilles remembering the great times shared with his men in battles. He would rather be with his men and reminiscing about his past than concentrating on what should have been truly important which is his wife and child. His wife is only briefly mentioned and as said prior his son is mentioned but not with the most favor. Ulysses wants to be immortalized by his men and in his own mind which is never more prevalent than in the last lines of the poem, “Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” (Kirzner and Mandell 2010, p. 1064) I believe he knows he will fade from the mortal world being older and by the circumstances of life, but he wants to be immortalized by his peers and a dream of the afterlife.
The poem is composed with iambic pentameter with no rhyme and there is no real structure making it easy for Ulysses to hop and jump from thought to thought. He spends most of his time at the beginning and then the end of the poem talking about him. The middle of the poem is the only spot where he does give some credit, yet brief to the people who help make him who he is. He may have done many things and was good at the things he did and helped achieved but his legacy will die with him. In a way this is fine since he is the one building him up and is the one person placed on the pedestal.

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Lord Tennyson, A. (1833). “Ulysses” In L.G. Kirszner & S.R. Mandell, Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing (7th ed., pp. 1063-1064). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

Poetry 9.6 of 10 on the basis of 1048 Review.