Nostalgia in Tennyson's 'Ulysses'

William Christie


The central predicament of Tennyson's dramatic monologue 'Ulysses' betrays an ironic nostalgia - originally and literally, an 'ache for home'. Without reference to Homer's Odyssey, however, the force and significance of this irony is too easily lost. Admittedly, Tennyson is careful to include enough circumstantial details to make sense of the lyric in relation to its epic parent and it might be protested that Tennyson's Ulysses is not Homer's Odysseus. But the Poem's conscious positioning as an afterword or tailpiece continuous with the Odyssey precludes any neat divorce.

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