In the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses speaks about his distaste with the staticity of his life. Reminiscing times past, he dreams to return to his adventures and the thrill which once filled his life. Ulysses describes how remaining stationary is to rust, and not what life is for. He explains how he will leave his dormant life and the potential that he has despite the limitations of his age.
In the first stanza of the poem, Ulysses declares their isn’t any point in his staying at his kingdom. Spending days with his old wife, and ruling a tiny kingdom of “savages” is hardly his idea of living. As the second stanza begins, he tells us that he cannot take a break from adventure and travel and is compelled to live his life to the fullest and explore the world till the day he dies. He speaks of his “previous” life, the adventure and the thrill of it all. He considers himself a symbol, “I am become a name”, for all who travel and explore.
Still speaking to himself, he tells of his victory at Troy, of his discoveries and of his adventures. He speaks of the thrill of battle and how he enjoyed spending time with his many compatriots. He yearns for new experiences and for new adventures. He knows life is full of novelty, and he longs to find and encounter more of those novelties. All in all, Ulysses is telling us that his travel and experiences have shaped who he is and that he yearns to discover and explore.
As the next stanza initializes, Ulysses begins telling us that he will leave the kingdom to his son, Telemachus. He tells us that Telemachus will be his successor to the throne as he departs on his travels, “
This is my son, mine own Telemachus, to whom I leave the scepter and the isle.” He speaks kindly of his son’s capability as a ruler, praising his trustworthiness, “prudence”, and dedication to their Gods. Ulysses is showing us that he feels his son is built to be a leader, while he, Ulysses, is destined for adventure, saying: “he works his works, I mine.”
In the final stanza, Ulysses begins addressing the mariners with whom he has worked and traveled with about the potential for them resume their voyages. He declares that despite their age, they still have the potential…