The mantra and mission statement of “Globetrotting grandpa”: “Tis not too late to seek a newer world” comes from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson called “Ulysses”. This is my absolute favorite poem of all time. I first read it in high school and have carried it with me my whole life. I always said the major purpose of this blog was to inspire. Whether to travel, to lose weight and get in shape, to read, whatever the dream they hold the dearest. I have reread this poem so much many of the verses are memorized. I had an epiphany that I never posted the poem for you to read. I like having an epiphany on January 6th since the day is actually the “day of Epiphany”. How apropos.
The poem is about Ulysses from Homer’s epic poem “The Odessey”. Ulysses is an ancient Greek king of the island of Ithica. He went off to fight the Trojan War. At the war’s conclusion, he went sailing back home. Storms through his ship and crew off course and it took him years to return.
The poem is written in the first person from Ulysses. In some ways, it is more of a monologue than a traditional poem. Ulysses has become tired of ruling and longs to go exploring and having adventures. But many years have passed and his crew fears they are too old to set sail again. Ulysses tries to convince them they still have life within them and that they aren’t too old to break free.
This is where I am today. Older, heavier, saddled with debts and thinking my travel and adventurous days have gone forever. When I get too morose, I reread this poem and feel hopeful again.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
“It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labour, by slow prudence, to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, 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 had yet his honour 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,
‘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.
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.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in the 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.”