Ulysses !!! … Rivals the Bard’s Best …

Posted on March 15, 2008. Filed under: Great Writing, The English |

“It little profits that an idle King by this still hearth, among these barren crags, matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race that hoard, and sleep and feed and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel.  I will drink life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed greatly, have suffered greatly; both with those that loved me, and alone, on shore and thru scrudding drifts the rainy Hyades vext the dim sea.

I am become a name for always roaming with a hungry heart. Much have I seen and known. Cities of men and manners, climates, counsels, governments. Myself not least but honored of them all. And drunk delight of battle with my peers, far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met. Yet all experience is an Arch through which gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades for ever and ever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rest unburnished, not to shine in use. As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life were too little and of one to me.

Little remains but every hour is saved from that eternal silence. Something more, a bringer of new things and vile were it for me for some three suns to store and hoard myself. And this grey spirit yearning in desire to follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bond of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus, to whom I leave the sceptre and the Isle. Well loved of me, discerning to fulfil this labour by slow prudence. To make mild a rugged people and thru soft degrees subdue them to the useful and the good. Most blameless is he, centred in the spheres of common duties. Decent not to fail in offices of tenderness and pay meet adoration to my household Gods. When I am gone, he works his work – I mine.

There lies the port, the vessel puffs her sail. There groan the dark broad seas. My mariners, souls that have toiled, and wrought and thought with me – that ever with a frolic welcome look used the thunder and sunshine and opposed free hearts, free foreheads. You and I are old. Old age hath yet its honor and its toil. Death closes all. Yet something ere the end. Some work of noble note may yet be done, not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks. The long day wanes. The slow moon climbs. The deep moans with many voices. Come My Friends! Its not to late to seek a newer world. Push off and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows – for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset and the baths of all Western Stars until I die.

It maybe that the gulfs will wreck us down. It maybe we shall touch the Happy Isles and see the great Achilles whom we knew. Though much is taken, much abides. And though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven – that which we are, we are.

One equal temper of heroic hearts made weak by time and fate but strong in Will – To Strive, To Seek, To Find and Not to Yeild”.

Ulysses – poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), The adventures of Odysseus were first recorded in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Critics feel that Tennyson’s Ulysses recalls the character Ulisse in Dante’s Inferno.

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