Thanks to Professor Roden for permission to share his post on the discussion group Victoria after several interesting exchanges about the interpretation of the poem. The title is mine not the author’s. — George P. Landow

I’ve been reading with great interest and pleasure this discussion of Tennyson. I’m reminded as others have pointed out how little “Ulysses” spoke to me in youth and how much I’ve come to appreciate it as I’ve grown older. I’m teaching the poem in an undergraduate survey next week as I’ve done for over a decade. But my preferred audience is found when I’ve included it in outreach lectures to lifelong-learning readers. I love discussing the work with individuals who remember having studied it in school and are by no means naive in over-sentimentalizing its issues of age, consciousness, perspective or audience, let alone tone. To read this poem in “retirement” (literally and figuratively) brings poignant and sobering but often deeply satisfying reflections, for quite obvious reasons.

In speaking to such audiences about Victorian poetry I’ve sometimes read it next to Arnold’s “Buried Life,” which also bears fruit in discernment of meaning and purpose at a deeply introspective period in the cycle of life.

Thank you for the food for thought in reminding me why I studied Victorian poetry and still enjoy teaching it, even as I work in other fields now. And belated thanks and anniversary congratulations for this extraordinary list which I’ve subscribed to since my graduate school days in the 1990s. So many who continue to post here now and who marked the recent anniversary are individuals who gave me valuable advice in response to list postings I made then. I’m glad not to be quite so out of sync as I’ve sometimes thought, as I also enjoyed the recent Silas Marner discussion. I happened to be teaching that novel at the time. As a scholar of religion/literature and gender (having once published a short article on the book), I find undergraduates really respond to affect and narrative in the book (which once made me bawl on an airplane flight!).

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Last modified 22 November 2014