Ulysses

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.

 

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

This is from the final stanza of one of my favourite poems, Tennyson’s Ulysses.

Long after returning from the victory at Troy, the Greek hero addresses his faithful mariners, knowing that this may be his last expedition. When all is done, Ulysses hopes to find himself in the after-life, surrounded by the famous figures of Greek Mythology. Although he knows his men have been ‘made weak by time and fate’, they are resolved to fight on in their adventures until the very end.

This poem is to be enjoyed simply for its artistic value, but I also find it an inspiring metaphor. In any walk of life, whether changing the world for the better, or fighting off a pesky cold, there is little better advice than ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’

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