Explication of Ulysses Essay

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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
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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 believed to have been taken after their deaths. Although Ulysses and his mariners are not as strong as they were in youth, they are "strong in will" and are sustained by their

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