White Lotus in blossom…

Ulysses

Posted in Alfred Lord Tennyson, English, Language & Literature by ytelotus on September 27, 2012

About :

Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1833, this poem is a monologue by the character Ulysses, the fictional Greek king of Ithaca.  He is the Odysseus (in Greek) of Homer’s Odyssey, famous for his Trojan Horse trick in the eventful ten-year-long Trojan war waged against the city of Troy.

The context of this poem is wound around his state of mind upon his return to Ithaca after his adventurous travels.  Ulysses, jaded by age, but ever-exploratory and indomitable by spirit, expresses his restlessness and yearning to set himself on yet another adventure, hoping “To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought”, as quoted in his own words.

Poem :

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 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;
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 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 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 grey 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 fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through 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 honour 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,
‘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.

To an early violet

Posted in English, Swami Vivekananda by ytelotus on September 14, 2012

About: 

This poem was written by Swami Vivekananda to a Western lady-disciple Sister Christine from New York on 6th January 1896.

Violet is the spring flower of the West.  But when it blooms in late winter, i.e. before the advent of spring, it has to fight against the cold.  Urging the reader to muster strength and remain unperturbed thro’ life’s unfair trials, this poem is sure to lift one’s spirit during the trying times.

Poem:

What though thy bed be frozen earth,
Thy cloak the chilling blast;
What though no mate to cheer thy path,
Thy sky with gloom o’ercast;

What though if love itself doth fail,
Thy fragrance strewed in vain;
What though if bad o’er good prevail,
And vice o’er virtue reign:

Change not thy nature, gentle bloom,
Thou violet, sweet and pure,
But ever pour thy sweet perfume
Unasked, unstinted, sure!