Talk:Ulysses (poem)

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Character of Ulysses[edit]

I don't think the qutoed lines imply that Ulysses was a bad king, my Norton Critical Edition footnotes the word unequal with the meaning "fitting different situation." peterallenwebb

Could be.

One other thing - Tennyson's character appears to be based more on the Ulysses of the Divine Comedy rather than the Odysseus of the Homeric poems, which Dante, knowing no Greek, had not read. The most persuasive evidence on this point is both Dante and Tennyson reference Ulysses assembling a band of old comrades, whereas in the Odyssey, all of Odysseus's companions die in the first three years of his wanderings. Ellsworth 22:42, 30 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Definately agree on that point. I may have some time to include information on those sources in the next week or so. peterallenwebb

It's been awhile since this was posted. I put a brief note at the end of the article, and don't have too much more to say at this time. Ellsworth 21:43, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Babylon 5[edit]

This poem is quoted frequently in Babylon 5. I'd love to see mention of that, but sadly I don't remember which episodes it happened in. --Masamage 16:59, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

It's referred to twice in Season 1, and is quoted at some length at the end of the Season 4 episode "Into The Fire". --anon user who doesn't believe in accounts 00:16, 29 Dec 2006 (EST)

Rather than just Babylon 5, laudable though it is, perhaps we should look to expand the article with a more lengthy section on its cultural impact? Lokicarbis 12:30, 10 February 2007 (UTC)
If this happens, I'd want to add a reference to the Rumpole of the Bailey episode in which Rumpole muses on the lines "Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race." (talk) 01:23, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

I must enthusiastically agree with both points. Rumpole of the Bailey and Babylon 5 should have mention in a section on the cultural impact of the poem. As this article (on of the best I've read on Wikipedia) reads at present (August 2010), there is the impression that this is a poem set adrift in culture, having influenced nothing and never referred to. There should be a small section on Cultural Impact and Rumpole and Babylon 5 (the creator of the series has said he was inspired by the poem and his TV series was a sort of interpretation of the poem) should be mentioned. Gingermint (talk) 04:57, 13 August 2010 (UTC)


Given that the poem is out of copyright, is there any reason we can't reproduce it in full? --anon user who doesn't believe in accounts 00:16, 29 Dec 2006 (EST)


This poem was read by Frasier, near the ending minutes of the show's finale. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:48, 4 May 2007 (UTC).


This is a very good article. My comments may look extensive, but that is because I have specific suggestions and questions rather than ginormous statements such as "This article has not been thoroughly researched and contains no discussion of the themes of the poem." :)

"Structure and synopsis":

  • I would dispense with the synopsis; the discussion of the themes of the poem covers these details well enough. Besides, at the rate you are going, the synopsis will be longer than the poem! (If you must keep the synopsis, limit it to one or two paragraphs - it is only a 70-line poem!)
  • You need to explain the poetic terms you are using - few people know off of the top of their heads what blank verse, iambic pentameter, spondees, pyrrhics and enjambment are. I would also give examples from the poem.
  • Do you want to say that the poem is in iambic pentameter? Most English blank verse is (perhaps that tidbit should be part of the discussion of blank verse?)
  • Why is the poem printed in two different ways? If the non-Tennyson way is arbitrary and ultimately unimportant in literary history, I'm not sure I would mention it here. Also, the article states that the two different layouts affect interpretation, but doesn't go on to explain how. If you retain this information, you will need to add more of an explanation.

"Literary context":

  • Can you explain in more detail the connections between Tennyson's poem and Joyce' and Pound's works?
  • The varied moods and the ambiguity of "Ulysses" challenge interpretation, according to W. B. Stanford, who surveyed Ulysses in literature. - What does "challenge interpretation" mean? (This sentence does not seem to fit with the rest of the paragraph, which is discussing the literary influences on Tennyson's poem.)
  • Homer's Odyssey provides the narrative scenery, but Tennyson's Ulysses is not the lover of public affairs of Homer's poems. - What does "narrative scenery" mean exactly and how is it connected to "public affairs" (why is there a "but"?)
  • The Shakespeare paragraph doesn't quite cohere; is there a relationship between the Hamlet reference and the Troilus and Cressida reference that you could mention?
  • The decisive influence of Dante is asserted with the arrival of the last movement, according to Stanford. - give us a "because" kind of clause here - this is the topic sentence of the paragraph
  • A modern Ulysses has been born, set for a new age of scientific optimism and colonialism. - Yikes! Big claim - can you say more about this?
  • According to Rowlinson (1994), "Ulysses" is an argument for continuation of narrative in a textual tradition, and a "meditation on the ground of that continuity" - This is not clear. Are we talking about oral poetry versus printed text?
  • He speaks in the fictional time of Homer’s Ulysses, but his claim is also that of Tennyson’s text, existing in another temporal order, and therefore refers to his fame extending from the Homeric and other works about him. - unclear

"Ulysses as narrator"

  • If Tennyson endorses the speaker, the speech may be read without irony; if the poet departs from this identification, alternative readings avail themselves. - It is not clear to me why this would determine if the poem were ironic or not.
  • After Paull F. Baum argued in 1948 that Ulysses recalls Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost - How does it recall Paradise Lost?
  • Ulysses' apparent disdain for those around him is one facet of the ironic perspective. - Explain more clearly how this disdain is ironic.
  • words with positive connotations in other of Tennyson's poetry and within the classical tradition - Tell the reader why the classical tradition is important to Tennyson interpretations.
  • He found the poem "intractable" in Tennyson's canon—its interpretation being something of a sport—but the poem resolves itself when its "method of indirection" is understood. - There are three separate ideas in this sentence that are not connected together very well.
  • The last paragraph of "Ulysses as narrator" needs to be expanded and clarified.

"The dramatic monologue"

  • In this interpretation, the comparatively direct and honest language of the first two movements is set against the more affirmative tone of the last two movements. - I do not see a big contrast between "direct and honest" and "affirmative".
  • Opposing the archetype of Ulysses as adventurer is the sense of passivity found in "Ulysses" and other of Tennyson's poetry. - Can you make this parallel? It would read better.
  • According to Tucker (1983), Tennyson’s characters "move" through time and space to be moved inwardly. The senses of desire and vague movement in "Ulysses" reinforce the etymological connection between "passion" and "passivity". - This seems like a typical lit crit argument, but I don't quite see the connection yet.

"Legacy and references"

  • Storch (1971) has examined how Victorian culture shaped the era's response to the poem's two conflicting themes of domestic servitude and individualism. - So far, the article hasn't said much about individualism per se. Perhaps this could be made more explicit?
  • He concluded that the Victorian era's moral sensibility "moved along other lines", such that Ulysses' rejection of family and society did not produce a moral conflict for the reader. - What lines? The logic of the argument is missing here - it is hard for the reader to piece together the argument with just the broad conclusions.
  • Reviewing the history of its publication in anthologies, Rowlinson (1992) observed that "Ulysses" was not usually among the poems Tennyson selected for his public readership. - Does he speculate as to why Tennyson didn't select it? That would be good to include.
  • The twentieth century brought with it a skepticism of the narratorial voice and a willingness to explore meaning beyond the author's intention. Still, "Ulysses" remains a much-admired poem. - The "still" is odd - why can't it be a much-admired poem under the other interpretation?
  • Must we have the "Other references" section? It seems trivial.


  • What do you think about moving the third paragraph of "Biographical context" into the "Interpretations" section and labeling it "Autobiographical elements" or some such thing?
  • What do you think about moving "The dramatic monologue" into the "Structure" section where you discuss dramatic monologue a bit already?
  • W. W. Robson and others have found stylistic incongruities between the poem and poet: "Tennyson, the responsible social being, the admirably serious and 'committed' individual, is uttering strenuous sentiments in the accent of Tennyson the most un-strenuous, lonely and poignant of poets." - I would put this sentence in a biographical part of the article.

Diction and prose:

  • I found the use of "paragraph" and "movement" to describe the stanzas of the poem strange. Is this the diction that scholars use? Although stanzas tend to be more formal than the sections of Tennyson's poem, it is the term I am most familiar with in regards to poetry. But, I usually read earlier, more formal poetry.
  • Be careful to distinguish between "Tennyson" and "the narrator".
  • When writing about literature, critics usually write in what is called the "literary present". Most of the article was in the present tense where appropriate, but not all of it. Any discussions of the poem should be in the present tense (i.e. "Ulysses is restless" not "Ulysses was restless").
  • Whenever you mention a literary work, give its initial date of publication in parantheses. This helps readers who can't place literary figures in history.
  • Whenever you mention a critic or scholar the first time, give their first and last name. I like to include a phrase describing them as well, such as "Tennyson scholar", so that readers know why they should pay attention to the person.
  • I am a little concerned at the phrase "straightforward reading"; most literary critics do not think any reading is "straightforward". :)


  • What do you think about putting Tennyson's picture at the top of the page where the wikisource box is and Hallam's picture in the "Biographical context" section? I think that the page should have a picture at the top, if at all possible. (I would move the wikisource box to the "External links" section or the "References" section.
  • Do you think that you could find at least one other image for the article?

Like I said, this was an impressive article. It just needs a bit more explanation to flesh it out and perhaps some reorganization. I will answer your larger questions about writing literature articles on your talk page. Awadewit | talk 05:26, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for the extensive feedback. Over time I will amend the article based on your more substantive (in terms of the work I need to do, I mean :) comments. For now I'll reply to a few of your comments:

  • I was hoping that the synopsis would serve the same purpose as "plot" in other articles. If a beginner wants to know what the poem is basically talking about, they probably won't be well served by the later parts (or will they? I don't know). Still, I see your point about shortening it.
  • I guess the question is whether or not the reader needs a synopsis of this poem to understand the article. I didn't think so, but if you do, I would definitely shorten it. Far too many "plot summaries" on wikipedia are "plot narrations" - they include chapter-by-chapter retellings of book or scene-by-scene retellings of a movie. Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
  • I find the three- or four-paragraph issue important, having noted the importance of the difference myself before any critic confirmed it. (It is also nice to include a few hard facts about the subject, this being one!) I will try to elaborate on how it affects the "analysis of the monologue", although I thought that was commented on in later sections.
  • Ok, so then the question is, who introduced this change and why was it subsequently widely adopted? I would place any interpretative material regarding the 3/4 paragraph issue right after you mention the fact. It seems more logical that way to me anyway. Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
  • There is no particular connection with Joyce or Pound that I've seen. It was mentioned merely to provide context. ("Oh yes, this character really has a history in literature.")
  • Ah, yes, I see. Perhaps that could be made a little clearer? I thought you were suggesting that Tennyson "invented" the modern Ulysses and then Joyce and Pound picked up on his changes. Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
  • "Movement" and "paragraph" are used almost exclusively in the literature; "stanza" is hardly ever seen.
  • "publication in anthologies"--no, I don't believe a reason is given or speculated.
  • Bummer. Did you check any biographies? Often that is where speculative motivations are laid out. Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
    • Biography-less so far. –Outriggr § 00:12, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't know of an image for Hallam--I half-searched for one--and had planned to do as you suggested if I found one. I placed the wikisource box at the top because I find it important to easily direct the reader to the poem itself, since I can't include the poem's text here.
  • What about putting the wikisource box in the "synopsis" section? Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Many of your suggestions point out that the criticism is not elaborated well or that the logic of statements is missing. I'm honestly not sure how much room for improvement I have in that regard. I'm also concerned about going off on tangents to get at the meaning of the criticism.
  • I'm shocked! Shocked! Literary critics not explain their logic? No, it can't be! (Do you see I have a soapbox here?) I would prefer tangents that bolster the arguments to the presentation of weak arguments, frankly. But this is probably a personal preference. Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
* Well, to the extent you're not being sarcastic, I meant that *I* might not be able to reiterate the arguments. They tend to be embedded throughout a criticism, not easy for a non-specialist to summarize briefly without using quotes. –Outriggr § 00:12, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Any thoughts on more finely-honed descriptors for the "straightforward" vs. "ironic" issue? I think of "straightforward" as the "naive" reading, but I don't like that either.
  • What about simply describing the reading, such as "the biographical reading" or "the Victorian reading"? The problem here is that "straightforward" is more of a judgment on the reading than "ironic", if you see what I mean. "Ironic" describes more precisely what the interpretation is about. Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks again, –Outriggr § 03:31, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

  • It was a pleasure. Awadewit | talk 05:27, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Good Article Nomination review[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    a (fair representation): b (all significant views):
  5. It is stable.
  6. It contains images, where possible, to illustrate the topic.
    a (tagged and captioned): b (lack of images does not in itself exclude GA): c (non-free images have fair use rationales):
  7. Overall:
    a Pass/Fail:

The thoroughness of the coverage of academic interpretations was particularly impressive and the quality of the prose is very good also. Well presented and comprehensive article.Blnguyen (bananabucket) 06:48, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for the review! –Outriggr § 00:12, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

to whoever reads the stuff[edit]

If you use Wikipedia, and you've read any portion of this article, it would be interesting to hear from you. (And what you thought, if you like.) –Outriggr  04:29, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

This is one of the very best articles I've read on Wikipedia. I'm very happy with the writing, the research and the presentation. One can get depressed reading articles on Wikipedia (poorly written, not well researched and badly organized and often politicized!) and this article made my heart smile. I felt, with a lightness in my soul, not so much like a curmudgeon. I read and liked and was happy. Gingermint (talk) 05:02, 13 August 2010 (UTC)


The picture of Tennyson should be on the left, since it is a right-facing portrait (that is why I moved it). See WP:MOS#Images and WP:IMAGE. Also, all images are supposed to be sized to "thumb" unless they are maps, etc. Something about user preferences and browsers that I don't understand. Awadewit | talk 19:31, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm not conviced, but respectifully...Ceoil 19:43, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
It is also standard art-historical practice, by the way. You don't have portraits facing off the page (or into the gutter of a book, for example). It is really distracting to the reader - they follow the eyes of the person right off of the page. I can't stand it, actually, but I suppose that is just all of that art-historical dogma I learned as an undergrad. :) Awadewit | talk 19:50, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Goes to show how much I know. Whatever, and thanks very much. Ceoil 19:52, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. Looking off the page is assertive, determined: Tennyson as Ulysses. Tennyson said that the poem "gave my feeling about the need of going forward and braving the struggle of life".Outriggr § 21:43, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
I have no idea what you are on about, feind. Ceoil 21:46, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure why "forward" is off of the page, but I can tell you that every time I look at that image, I look at my telephone, too, because I am directed off of the page. I now have this weird association between the poem and my telephone. :) I don't think this is worth going on and on about - it is just an aesthetic issue that I thought I would raise. If you two prefer him looking off of the page, that is fine. This is not one of those live-or-die issues. Awadewit | talk 22:06, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Thought: Why don't you put the "forward and braving" quote in the caption of the image, if you want to tie it to that feeling? Awadewit | talk 22:07, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Tennyson certainly didn't 'phone this poem in', so how about this new, younger image, in which the one-quarter profile could have us debating whether he is in fact looking at the viewer, or off the page. If you see any non-British spelli –Outriggr § 02:32, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
oops, a bit slow of me. Ceoil 03:16, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Ceoil's motives, re-examined[edit]

Hallam = Ceoil!

It's just too much of a coincidence that this new illustration of A.H. Hallam makes the fellow look like a cross between Liam Neeson and Colm Feore—both Irish or Irish-named—with Ceoil the Irishman nominating the article. What is your real plan, rabble-rouser? Is Hallam speaking through you? I understand he was a rather good writer—I'm sure he could save this Gil Gundersonian unemployed-encyclopedia-salesman–cum–writer effort from Wikipedia's next Value Village collection. (I should probably add a smiley: :-) ) –Outriggr § 02:23, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

There are far larger, and more diabolical, motives at play here Outriggr; weather machines, mirrors, small animals, one million dollars - but don't you worry your pretty little head about it. Ceoil 03:10, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Awadewit's comments from FAC page[edit]

(Copied here by Outriggr, who then replied inline)

  • Comments This is a good article, but I think that elements of it could still be made clearer. I gave a pretty detailed review of it a few months ago, but I don't think that everything from that review has been addressed. Ceoil, perhaps you could take a look at that list and check through everything? I noticed that some of the things I had asked for elaboration on are still a little obscure. Outriggr had mentioned that he was going to work on the article over time - does he think it's ready?
  • Is "BC" really supposed to be linked to Anno Domini? To me, that is very confusing.
    • "Before Christ" redirects to Anno Domini, and if you link to BC, you get a disambig page directing to you Before Christ, which goes to Anno Domini. –Outriggr § 03:54, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • For most of the poem's history, an affirmative reading of its themes prevailed - "affirmative" is a bit vague
    • Changed to the ungainly "non-ironic"—certainly "affirmative" is used in the literature but not good for a general audience I guess? –Outriggr § 12:52, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Could the important ironies be explained in a phrase or sentence in the lead?
    • Added. –Outriggr § 12:52, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The quote boxes need citations. All quotations from poems need line numbers and we need to know what edition they are being cited from.
  • Examples of enjambment and spondees would help the reader understand what these are and how they work (second paragraph of "Synposis and structure").
    • This section has been reworked and should now be more lucid. The Arnold quote adds interest as well. –Outriggr § 07:16, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Tennyson penned "Ulysses" after the death of his close Cambridge friend, the poet Arthur Henry Hallam (1811–33), whom Tennyson held in very high esteem. - I think their friendship went beyond this. This doesn't suggest the strong emotional ties I've always heard existed on Tennyson's side, at least.
    • Addressed. –Outriggr § 12:06, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Tennyson said that the poem "gave my feeling about the need of going forward and braving the struggle of life" - something is missing from the end of the this sentence, I feel
    • I don't see that, but I've rephrased as part of a semi-coloned sentence. –Outriggr § 13:17, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Yet for W. W. Robson and others, stylistic incongruities between the poem and poet are what make "Ulysses" exceptional - Tell the reader who Robson is and why we should care about his/her opinion. This is the case for all of the scholars mentioned - we need to know that they have some credibility.
    • Addressed. –Outriggr § 05:25, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The intention to recall the Homeric character is evident, however, in certain passages. - sentence fragment
    • No—"The intention is evident". –Outriggr § 03:54, 22 October 2007 (UTC) I see how you were confused and will change the late "however". –Outriggr § 12:10, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The last movement—among the most familiar passages in nineteenth-century English poetry—presents decisively the influence of Dante. - Dante passage is awkward; also, do we mean "English-language poetry" or "British poetry"?
    • English-language added. –Outriggr § 13:17, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Tennyson projects this zeal into Ulysses' unquenched desire for knowledge: - The quote is missing!
    • Due to formatting/box experiments I expect. Addressed. –Outriggr § 12:06, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I feel like the last paragraph of "Literary context" could be explained a little more clearly for those not used to literary jargon, but this could just be me being overcautious.
    • I am comfortable with it in current form. As to your other rewording/clarification suggestions, I agree with you and will work on. –Outriggr § 12:06, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The first paragraph of "Ulysses as narrator" could flow a bit better - the sentences don't quite lead into each other as well as they could.
    • Redone, I like it much more. –Outriggr § 08:11, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The sense of passivity found in "Ulysses" opposes the archetype of Ulysses as adventurer. T. S. Eliot opined that "Tennyson could not tell a story at all".[37] To him, Dante's treatment of Ulysses is exciting, while Tennyson's piece is "an elegiac mood". - The structure of these sentences could be improved.
    • Rewritten. –Outriggr § 05:25, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Renowned Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle appreciated "Ulysses", at last respecting Tennyson's talent enough to exhort him to write prose instead. - Why "at last"? The reader doesn't know, presumably.
    • It seems the source may have mixed up the chronology of Carlyle's opinion of Tennyson. I have replaced this sentence with a new one; the new source, devoted to their relationship, provides no support for the earlier claim. –Outriggr § 03:54, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The prominence of "Ulysses" in Tennyson's canon is the result of two trends, according to critic Matthew Rowlinson: the rise of formal English poetry studies in the late nineteenth century, and the Victorian effort to articulate an English culture that could be exported. - English or British?
    • Why are you asking, if it says "English"? –Outriggr § 12:10, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Although the twentieth century produced new interpretations of "Ulysses"—developing a skepticism of the narratorial voice and a willingness to explore meaning beyond the author's intention—the poem remains much-admired. - I'm not sure why this is an "although" - one can be skeptical of the authorial voice, etc. and still admire.
    • Addressed. The "although" was meant to function only in the sense of "stuff changed, but people still like it". I can certainly imagine a reinterpretation of a once-popular poem, a century later, sending it into never-never land. –Outriggr § 12:06, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Both poems are narrated by an aged man contemplating life's end. Comparing "Ulysses"' introductory lines, Eliot's comment on Ulysses is ironic: - But there is no quote here!
    • Rephrased. –Outriggr § 05:25, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure the "In poetry" section needs to be a section. I would cut the last sentence (which is not about Tennyson's poem in any way) and integrate the rest into the earlier section.
    • Addressed. –Outriggr § 12:11, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

I think that this can become an FA - it just needs some polishing and a bit of explanation here and there. Awadewit | talk 20:32, 21 October 2007 (UTC) [end copy]


I would definitely lean towards support at FAC on this one. :) Here are a few comments:

  • Scholars have since offered other interpretations of the poem and focused on potential ironies in the poem, arguing that Ulysses' sentiment and the poem's dramatic monologue form are inconsistent and reveal flaws in Ulysses' character or Tennyson's conception of the poem. - The second half of this sentence doesn't make sense until one reads the article. The ironies need to be explained better in the lead, I think.
  • I tried again. –Outriggr § 08:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • "cast a pall"? Beautiful, but perhaps a little judgmental. :) Awadewit | talk 08:37, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • He contemplates his age and eventual death—"Life piled on life / Were all too little, and of one to me / Little remains"—and longs for experience and knowledge, asserting the dullness of pausing. - "pausing"? I wasn't quite sure what "pausing" was supposed to mean here.
  • Just as well to delete that. It somewhat repeated earlier sentences. –Outriggr § 08:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Many poets have written about Ulysses, among them Homer, Euripides, Horace, Dante, William Shakespeare, and Alexander Pope, but Tennyson's poem is considered the first modern account.[1] In the twentieth century, James Joyce's novel Ulysses (1922) and Ezra Pound's poem The Cantos (1915–62) invoked the character. - The article needs to show how Joyce and Pound are modern like Tennyson in some way otherwise the statement is just hanging there.
  • I'm getting rid of it - it was never supposed to do what you thought it was. :) –Outriggr § 06:45, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, whatever it was - it was mystifying. :) Awadewit | talk 06:57, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • After English literature scholar Paull F. Baum argued in 1948 that Ulysses recalls Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost (1667),[5] the ironic interpretation became dominant. - Please explain the connection between Ulysses and Satan.
  • Thanks to your research there, it flows better now, I believe. –Outriggr § 08:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Homeric narrative, Ulysses' mariners, whom he calls on—"Come, my friends, / 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world"—are dead, which has encouraged psychological interpretations. - Perhaps psychoanalytic interpretations? Explain in a few sentences, if at all possible.
  • No detail on these—they're minor—but the sentence has been moved, the word "psychoanalytic" used. If it still begs for more detail, I'll remove it. –Outriggr § 08:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, it needs a phrase or two for explanation. Awadewit | talk 08:37, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • What do you think about putting the "dramatic monologue" section in the "Synopsis and structure" section? It is more about form or structure.
  • I'll look into this. My concern is that the dramatic monologue form, as discussed, relates to the interpretation of the poem, and that's where it is currently located. –Outriggr § 06:45, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • The entire article is interpretation (sometimes I don't think people get that). :) There are definitely bits in the "Synopsis and structure" section that are clear interpretation, even to non-English types, such as how the poem changes meaning with three and four paragraphs. Awadewit | talk 06:57, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • No, I get that, of course (but I am worried that an article of this nature becomes difficult to section-ize for this reason, leading everyone to have a different ("actionable" :) opinion of how it should be done). When I looked at this section again, I see what you mean—I will move two of the three paras to "Synopsis and structure" and leave "passivity" with the section on irony. –Outriggr § 07:18, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • That's the thing, isn't it? Do what you think is best. I just had this feeling when I got to that section - "wait, didn't we already talk about this topic?" For whatever that is worth. Awadewit | talk 07:28, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Cultural legacy seems a bit dangly doesn't it? Is that factoid really that important? I'm leaning towards deletion, especially since the rest of the section hangs together so nicely.
  • I still find it a nice way to end the article, with the end of the poem—doesn't anyone else appreciate a bit of aesthetic analogy (or something)? –Outriggr § 06:45, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • That's fine, then. Awadewit | talk 06:57, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • All quotations need line numbers and need to be cited to particular editions in the footnotes.
  • This has been done. A note has been made in the references section to the edition used. –Outriggr § 08:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Can you mark out the metrical feet in the example somehow? The Raven did this - perhaps an even better way than this could be found, such as where the table itself disappears and only the syllabic markings and the poetic line remain?
  • Wouldn't this be original research unless I could find someone who had done so? –Outriggr § 06:45, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Well, I thought you had a source - since you quoted those lines. If someone quotes those lines to make that point about the feet and you used them, adding the feet wouldn't be OR, because there is only way to count the feet, if you see what I mean. Awadewit | talk 06:57, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Matthew Arnold quotes the three lines, and is "obviously" (there's my OR) referring in part to spondees, or at least the article that quoted him quoting the poem is "obviously" referring to the spondees. But there is no illustration of any particular spondee. –Outriggr § 07:18, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Excellent. But you can count the meter yourself, right, and figure it out? Awadewit | talk 07:26, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
  • No, you're strict about interpreting OR, and I'm going to be here. How it was read in 1842 and how I read it now are not necessarily the same. –Outriggr § 08:24, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • But if someone says what the meter is, there is no interpretation, right? So, for example, if a critic says that a line of Shakespeare is in iambic pentameter and you have that line, is not interpretation to count it out, in my opinion. That is what we are talking about here, right? Awadewit | talk 08:29, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree, but none of these sources have said what words constitute the "spondee". Options for long syllables (it's not black and me):
YET ALL exPERyence is an ARCH WHEREthro'
GLEAMS THAT unTRAVell'd WORLD, whose MARgin FADES (20)
For EVer AND for EVer WHEN I MOVE.
For EVer and for EVer WHEN i MOVE. –Outriggr § 08:45, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

This page is really very interesting! Thanks! Awadewit | talk 04:21, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Thanks again for the (third!) review. –Outriggr § 06:45, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
Not a problem. Awadewit | talk 06:57, 3 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm tucked away at the library right now looking at Baum. Unfortunately, after quickly glancing over the sections on "Ulysses", I don't see any reference to Satan or Paradise Lost. The first three pages deal almost entirely with the Dante influence and the second three pages deal almost entirely with a structural analysis.

  • "The classical inspiration of 'Ulysses' is slight [insert Homeric quote and discussion]...But Tennyson had also been reading Dante, who found Ulysses among the evil counsellors in the eighth circle of Hell.[insert Dante quotation]...Dante is more orderly; Tennyson's Ulysses is more excited, says things as they come to him, repeats himself, returns to topics he has apparently finished; but the two characters have much in common.[insert comparative quotations]...The English Ulysses will not only drink life to the lees, he will follow knowledge...[insert quotation]; he still hopes to perform some work of noble note...[insert quotation]; still heroic in heart and strong in will." (92-95) - I remember the article covering this aspect well.
  • There is an appendix which describes the three parts of the poem and the problems with determining to whom Ulysses is speaking that I remember the article covering quite well (299-303).

Now, I have to admit that I did not read the entire book - I used the index to guide me. You can take that for what it is worth. Awadewit | talk 22:57, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

  • After looking at this site, I'm going to go and try and find the Thomson book. Awadewit | talk 23:03, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Ah ha! Alastair W. Thomson. The Poetry of Tennyson. London: Routledge, 1986. ISBN 0710207166.
  • "Tithonus", also written after Hallam's death, is another long monologue about "frustration, a lingering between life and death" and was conceived as a partner to "Ulysses". It is "the lament of the endlessly ageing lover of Aurora, goddess of the dawn, who granted him eternal life, but not eternal youth, and now cannot grant him death." (65) - I don't remember seeing this in the article. Might be helpful.
  • "Perhaps the most revealing phrase in Ulysses is its last four words: 'strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.' It has been said that the resoluteness is undercut by irony, since Satan's 'And courage never to submit or yield' in Paradise Lost is not far away. More important than the literary allusion is the fact that 'not to yield' seems less a condition of striving, seeking, and finding than a separate statement." (66) - followed by an explication of the personal meaning of the poem "more about myself"

There is a footnote by the Satan reference to John Pettigrew's "Tennyson's 'Ulysses': A Reconciliation of Opposites", Victorian Poetry 1 (1963): 27-45, so perhaps that is the first reference to the Satan link. Looking now. Awadewit | talk 23:26, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

  • "And even the splendid resoluteness of the poem's final line is undercut with superb irony as, not for the first time, the shade of Milton's Satan is summoned by it: 'And courage never to submit or yield' (Paradise Lost, I, 108)." (44)
Thanks! I have Pettigrew myself. He says that Baum dislikes the poem and Tennyson; elucidating that feeling would help fill out the section where the article mentions criticism of the poet and poem (as opposed to an ironic reading that is found poetically satisfactory). Pettigrew also mentions Baum finding "unfortunate echoes of Milton's Satan and Byron's Childe Harold". Hughes (see article refs) says "Since 1948, when ...Baum argued that Ulysses echoes Milton's Satan...". So it must be in the book somewhere. Do they let you scan and email in uni libraries these days? That chapter would be very helpful. What you have described above should be helpful to fill in those rough edges. –Outriggr § 23:45, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
There is no chapter on "Ulysses". There are just those six pages (three in an early chapter and three in an appendix), plus random other references. Pettigrew may have misremembered. It is interesting that Thomson cites Pettigrew and not Baum when he wants to establish the Satan reading. Baum's interpretation didn't seem dismissive to me (but perhaps that's because I am not used to fulsome praise of poetry, and a lot of this older criticism is full of that). I could send you the six pages, but then I'd have to go back to the library. Really, I don't think the pages are worth it - what I read there was already in the article. I think citing Pettigrew and Thomson together for the Satan reference would be enough, along with the lines from Paradise Lost. Obviously none of these critics goes on at great length about the allusion and somebody interested to go beyond those references isn't going to need this article. :) Awadewit | talk 00:25, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Big sister[edit]

I'm watching you, Ulysses... Awadewit | talk 17:03, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

It greatly buoys my spirits to behold
my name in such good stead upon the day
of my allotted glory—likewise ere
the cheerful clime that rings in our new year.

She is the muse, the one who speaks on high;
our sister lost one man who once was nigh.
Small comfort would be found upon return
to ravaged prose or gleams in some fund's eye.

Ring Out, Wild Bells! Ring out green and vengeful
edits! Ring Out Rigors and reversions
which feed no fire but make our hearthstones cold!
Last, ring in souls like Awadewit, with
a promise and a resolution forged
in time and aiming true; had we not set
to sail once more, we'd stay at port with you.

Ulysses 05:38, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Literary Context[edit]

from the article "Homer's Odyssey provides the poem's narrative background: in its eleventh book the prophet Tiresias foretells that Ulysses will return to Ithaca after a difficult voyage, then begin a new, mysterious voyage, and finally die an "unwarlike" death at sea. By Tennyson's poem's end, his Ulysses is contemplating undertaking this new voyage."

Tiresias tells Odysseus that he will die FAR from sea, not on it! Worse mistake the word "unwarlike" in qoutes. Ive got Chapman and EV Rieu right in front of me. neither use anything like unwarlike. Rieu calls it a peaceful death. btw, heres a citation 11.130-138. I think that this version is either Virgil or Ovid, because they did not like Odysseus. I have not corrected the passage because it is directly related to the next sentence and I havent read Tennyson. But i do know the new voyage predicted by T in Homer is not a sea voyage. it is the paddle/winnowing fan voyage. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Eric Forest (talkcontribs) 08:20, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

"Unwarlike" isn't worse than your first point—it's the less debatable of your two points. Some sources give "peaceful", some "unwarlike",[1] and what's important in the context of this poem is the irony or contrast of the protaganist dying in an "unwarlike" manner, given Tennyson's poem's sentiments. It looks like the death is foretold to come "from the sea", and the meaning here is rather vague, according to a Google Books review. I will amend the article on this latter point. (Is there anything you liked about the article? You could probably count on one hand the number of extended articles on specific poems on wikipedia.) –Outriggr § 23:08, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Question regarding last comment in article section:

However, critics note that in the Homeric narrative, Ulysses' original mariners are dead. A significant irony therefore develops from Ulysses' speech to his sailors—"Come, my friends, / 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world" (56–57). Since Dante's Ulisse has already undertaken this voyage and recounts it in the Inferno, Ulysses' entire monologue can be envisioned as his recollection while situated in Hell.[30]

The following from Inferno also seems to contradict this statement:

"Therefore, I set out on the open sea with but one ship and that small company of those who never had deserted me."(Canto XXVI, 100-102). 

Ulysses then recounts the events of that last voyage leading upto and including his eventual death.I fail to see the "significant irony " that is supposedly being developed. Can somebody better versed in the subject help me clear this up. (talk) 07:02, 3 November 2009 (UTC)An Amateur

This is a fine article, very carefully edited and I would hesitate to amend it in any way. One small point though; there appears (perhaps my mistake) to be an assumption that Tennyson's use of a source (Dante) that places Ulysses in hell implies an underlying negative attitude towards the hero, and to be evidence in favour of the "ironic" interpretation of the poem. This, though, may well not be the case, since Tennyson may have had a very different assessment of the very character traits that led Dante to implicitly condemn Ulysses. Similarly, it has always been recognised that Milton (also a rebel against an absolute ruler) saw much to admire in the character of Satan as represented in Paradise Lost. So to draw on these representations would not necessarily imply a negative attitude towards Ulysses, and given Tennyson's clear identification with Ulysses in the poem, it would be surprising if his overall assessment was negative. This is not intended to be OR, just a response to what might be taken as a "subtext" in the presentation here. Orbitalforam (talk) 09:56, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

The Portuguese FAC[edit]

It appears that a translated version of this article is under consideration at the Portuguese version of FAC. [2] Google translation Neat. (Original translation of the poem seems to be an issue.) –Outriggr § 02:44, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I was who translated this article to Portuguese and sent it to Portuguese FAC. (It's very usual to translate English or Spanish FAs to Portuguese). -Ramisses (talk) 14:36, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Portuguese Wikipedia main page[edit]

A translated version of this article, Ulysses (poema), is on the main page of the Portuguese Wikipedia today, tomorrow, and after tomorrow. -Ramisses (talk) 16:57, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

london olympics[edit]

right at the end some mention should be made of the use of the end of the poem on the poetry wall at "Ulysses Square" at the London Olympic Village, which is intended to be there forever more. The last line is in letters 2 feet high, and then, inside, the last few lines are to be given. Check this out with the Cultural Commissar of the Olympics. BTW the line was chosen as a result of a public vote so this is testimony to the enduring (affirmative) popularity of Ulysses. Alf Heben (talk) 19:13, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

New Hallam image[edit]

An image of A.H.H I recently found, in case it's ever needed: File:Arthur Henry Hallam bust.jpg. It's a bust by Francis Leggatt Chantrey. INeverCry 02:57, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

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