Focusing in

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Madi Lowe
January 6,2011
Draft 3

Focusing In
To live a life unfulfilled would be to live it without risks. The poems Curiosity written by Alastair Reid and Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson both deal with the desire to live life to the fullest. The meaning of both poems is similar, they both speak of how adventurers experience life. Though they have similar meaning, one has a more formal form, while the other is more free form. Although both poems encourage taking risks and having a focused life, it is present in different ways.

In Ulysses, Ulysses is speaking to his men about how it is important to live life at the fullest. After returning from his journey, he must return to ruling Ithica. He finds this immensely boring and wishes that he was back having adventures and risking life and limb for honor. Living a risk-free life is, to him, like death. To stay in one place is worthless when one has fought at Troy and had countless other adventures. That is the kind of life Ulysses approves of. He says, “How dull it is to pause, to make an end./ To rust unburnished, not to shine in use.” (l. 23). For him, there is no other worth while life but adventuring.

Ulysses believes that the only way to be remembered when one dies is to accumulate stories to be remembered by. In the third stanza, Ulysses is speaking to his crew. Ulysses was the only one who made it through his journey alive, so when he speaks to his crew, its only in his imagination. While giving this monologue, he is on his death bed and he needs their support in his final voyage. The death imagery in this stanza is due to Ulysses’ current state of mind. He wants to join his men and: “To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths/ Of all the western starts, 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.” (ll. 60-64). Even though he knows that death is an unavoidable. Death is a time to look back at life and...
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