Ezra Pound: Poems
Fading Margins: Adventure and Transience in “Ulysses” and “The Seafarer”
Both Lord Alfred Tennyson’s dramatic monologue, “Ulysses,” and Ezra Pound’s 1912 translation of the Old English dramatic monologue “The Seafarer” depict a man’s musings about seaward journeys. Tennyson wrote “Ulysses” in the wake of his best friend Arthur Henry Hallam’s death. “The Seafarer” has traditionally been recognised for its overtly elegiac overtones. One may assume that their similarity in setting and style would thus render thematic parallels. In fact, as this paper will attempt to demonstrate by analysing sound elements and syntactic components, the poems’ thematic interests are similar, but in intentional stance, incommensurable. The former poem looks optimistically—even idealistically— to the human capacity to embrace change and adventure, while the latter reflects mournfully on the transience and loss inherent to human existence.
Ulysses’ active voice, rich in direct syntax, can sustain long sentences while maintaining a powerful, regal tone befitting a king. Like “The Seafarer,” the speaker muses upon his surroundings rather than himself: “By this still hearth, among these barren crags, / matched with an aged wife,” (2-3) but reveals himself through this process: “I am a part of all that I have met,” (18). This...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 833 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6231 literature essays, 1735 sample college application essays, 250 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in