This week's post is an excerpt from Tennyson's great poem Ulysses
. The Greek hero and his crew are in their twilight years, and the poem is a rally call for one last heroic action. It's Tennyson at his most grand and inspirational. This was John F. Kennedy's favorite poem, and it reads like the best of Churchill's speeches.
For the full effect, the entire poem is here
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.
Lord Alfred Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire England in 1809, one of 12 children. He was one of the most popular poets of his era, and amassed considerable wealth publishing his poems. His best-known work includes In Memoriam and Idylls of the King.