Monday, March 26, 2007

Strive, Seek, Find, And Never Yield

The following, are my favorite passages from Alfred Lord Tennyson's Poem: "Ulysses."

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 when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed 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 honoured of them all;

I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breath 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 grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Come, my friends,
'Tis 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 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.

[Tennyson's "Ulysses" first appeared in Morte D'Arthur, and Other Idyls. By Alfred Tennyson. London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street, MDCCCXLII. pp. 67. This, however, was a trial book, printed but not published. The first publication of the poem occurred in Poems by Alfred Tennyson. In Two Volumes. London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street. MDCCCXLII. pp. vii, 233; vii, 231. See "Chronology" in Henry Van Dyke's Studies in Tennyson (Port Washington, NY: Kennikat, 1920; rpt., 1966].

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