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Poetic Forms and Genres - Book Report/Review Example

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Poetic Forms and Genres

Historical events during the Victorian Age such as the adoption of the Reform Bill (1832), Chartism (1836-1848) and many others speak for the period itself and we should not waste time on history anyway. Literature in this period is the object of our interest. Needless to say, literature has been strongly influenced by all of those events and the bourgeois lifestyle and society in general. Among all literature genres poetry has been regarded the highest if we are to judge according to the respect it has enjoyed.
Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) is considered "national treasure" for the British. His best works include "Poems by Two Brothers" (1827), "Poems Chiefly Lyrical" (1830), "Poems" (1832), "Poems" (1842), "In Memoriam" (1850), "Maud" (1855), "Idylls of the King" (1859), "Enoch Arden, and Other Poems" (1864), "Works" (so-called 'Imperial Edition' 1872), several plays ("Queen Mary", "Harold" "The Falcon" and others), etc.
"Ulysses" (1842) is one of his best poems. It is a pure monologue in blank verse, more compact in its composition than the rest of his poems, using strong, core and "sober" language, whose richness is beyond any critic. To clarify the meaning of monologue as a poetic form we have to give its definition and say that it is a speech in verse or prose uttered by one speaker as a part of a larger work or as an independent work in itself, and blank verse means unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter often used in long poems and dramatic verse, with a very flexible form and well adaptable to monologues like "Ulysses" (Myers, Jack, & Simms, Michael, "The Longman Dictionary of Poetic Terms", 1989, p.33). Tennyson uses many motives from Homer's great epic "Odysseus". In "Ulysses" the speaker (narrator) is Odysseus himself, who is bored with the peaceful life after his return to Ithaca and invites his sailors to join him on this last, big, exploring journey. Ulysses thus praises the spirit of the explorer and discoverer who can not reconcile with the existing things in life.
"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"
("Ulysses", lines 56-61)
On the contrary, Telemachus is a personification of a lazy, conservative temperament that lives by the conventions. Odysseus is happy to let Telemachus rule and "leave the scepter and the isle" to him, thinking he will do better. However, Odysseus shows open disdain towards his own son, his "old wife", but most of all towards his people.
A large number of the words Tennyson uses in "Ulysses" carry a potential emotional charge within themselves as they arouse many associations in every reader regardless of one's age. People must never be satisfied with what they have achieved to some point in their life, and spend the rest of it in laziness, and without any further ambitions.
Some of the contemporary critics have tried very hard to prove that Tennyson does not ...Show more


When we read poetry, it is not our mission to simply discover whether the poet's ideas are new or old, neither is our mission to criticize one's poetry if we have never written a single word in our whole lives. However, it is worth knowing something more about the period the poet belonged to, if we are trying to understand a poem and enjoy it.
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