The Lotus-Eaters by Tennyson

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The poem ‘’The Lotus-Eaters’’ (NA II, 1119) by Alfred Tennyson is based on a short episode from the Greek myth Odyssey in which Odysseus and his marines get to the island of the Lotus-eaters. The Lotus-eaters get their name from eating Lotus plants with a drug effect. Although the war veterans desire to go home, they get seduced to stay on the island because of the influence the Lotus plants have on them. Through the usage of Sound imagery, metrical (ir)regularity and (no) rhyme the poet shows us the persuasiveness of the land of the Lotus-Eaters. In the poem’s overall rhyme scheme Tennyson starts with an almost perfect system of crossed rhyme (ABAB, BCBC, C). This can perhaps be explained to be the Lotus calling the men in a beautiful way to come to them. The last imperfect extra line than, could be a little warning up front, there is something not right, but they do not know yet what it is. To continue this assumption the Choric song also starts somewhat structured (ABAB, CCC, DDDD) where the marines sing of the positive influence the plants have on them (‘’There is sweet music that softer falls’’). In the sixth stanza of the song the poet mentions ‘’confusion’’ (line 128), the broken rhyme scheme of the stanza is utterly confusing too (AABCB, DCEDE, FGFGHGH, II), where the marines sing of their home and families. At the end the last and longest stanza is again structured (AA, BBB, CCC, DDD, EEE, FFF, GGG, HHH, III, JJJ) where the marines make up their mind and decide to wander no more, at last there is tranquility in their beings.

The poem’s meter is mainly Iambic, though in line 6 Tennyson uses inversion to a trochee. ‘’All round the coast the languid air did swoon, Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.’’ (1119)
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