Alfred Lord Tennyson

(6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892 / Lincoln / England)

Ulysses - Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd 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 enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding 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, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd 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 wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all 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 it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound 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 fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
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 gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but 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 round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too 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 the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
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 yield.

Form: Dramatic Monologue


Comments about Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

  • (9/23/2019 8:29:00 AM)

    Home sweet Home question answe (Report)Reply

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  • Michael Walker (7/27/2019 7:10:00 PM)

    A long, compressed dramatic monologue with some tremendous words spoken by Ulysses,
    'Come my friends./ 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world'. It is still not too late in our times.
    (Report)Reply

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  • Iftekhar Ifti (2/14/2019 4:15:00 PM)

    It’s one of the best work of Alfred Lord Tennyson I think (Report)Reply

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  • Sylvaonyema Uba (7/29/2018 7:00:00 AM)

    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and to yield.

    Well expressed and communicated.
    Good delivery.

    SYLV A-ONYEMA UBA
    (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Christopher Tye (3/22/2018 8:47:00 AM)

    Such a beautiful poem with brilliantly worded ending that's just perfection.

    “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 yield.”
    (Report)Reply

    14 person liked.
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  • (12/19/2017 8:57:00 AM)

    ‘Sail on’ no matter what! but especially as you age. Sublime encouragement for a 74 year old (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Muzahidul Reza (11/17/2017 12:33:00 AM)

    It little profits that an idle king,
    By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
    Match'd with an aged wife, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , outstanding!
    (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • (9/27/2017 4:54:00 AM)

    The quest for love and peace with life supports. Great poem. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Bjpafa Meragente (8/20/2017 2:39:00 PM)

    We all miss Troy. with its topless towers. (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Sylvaonyema Uba (2/14/2017 7:51:00 PM)

    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

    Nice words!
    Well communicated!

    Sylva
    (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Uzefa Rashida M.a (2/19/2016 10:26:00 AM)

    An inspiring poem teaching mankind to live life to the lees, every word teaches us to strive, seek, find, and not to yield till you achieve. It adds a new hope towards success and greater confidence in me. (Report)Reply

    10 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (9/9/2015 9:24:00 AM)

    This man no fine artist.His words do not teach, inspire or hold the readers interest.His writings long as he must think the tree worthless to die for such doodlings.-Albert George Vinny (Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
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  • (8/30/2014 11:24:00 PM)

    Of Tennyson's many, I still think this one is his best - unsentimental, regularly iambic but simulating plain speech, simple and accessible, but thoughtful and rather sophisticated. To have written one such poem is to have earned the reputation of a genuine poet. (And, of course, Tennyson has many, many others.) (Report)Reply

    19 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • (8/30/2014 9:33:00 AM)

    This poem is based less on the Odyssey than on Dante's discussion of Ulysses in the Divine Comedy. (Report)Reply

    9 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • Mohammad Skati (8/30/2014 9:18:00 AM)

    A great poem by a genius poet. (Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • (9/29/2013 11:50:00 PM)

    Only recently discovered this gem and was so taken with it that within a week I had memorized it.
    It must be an age thing but I doubt if I could have resonated with this poem 40 years ago when I was taking English Literature in university. What a timely find.
    (Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • Muzaffer Akin (8/30/2013 2:54:00 PM)

    Perfect poem..when I'll write like that beautiful poems...never! (Report)Reply

    10 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • (8/30/2013 1:24:00 PM)

    Wonderful poem! Love it (Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • Aftab Alam Khursheed (8/30/2013 2:31:00 AM)

    Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson in poetic form and the same James Joyce in a prose form or a novel both are the great work LT perfection on historical poem is indeed a great work we must read to grasp the style (Report)Reply

    10 person liked.
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  • Shahzia Batool (8/30/2013 12:45:00 AM)

    a celebrated piece...! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
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Read all 33 comments »




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Read poems about / on: work, travel, sunset, sunshine, strength, son, fate, star, silence, happy, moon, world, life, sleep, people, heaven, sea, alone, dark, death



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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