How far do you agree with one reader’s view that “the men in Tennyson’s poems are whining, selfish and arrogant, with little to recommend them”?
In Tennyson’s poem Tithonus, some may see him as self pitying. In the first stanza it begins with how man is born, works on the earth, then dies and is buried underground. However, the speaker, Tithonus, is cursed to live forever, “Me only cruel immortality consumes”. Tithonus then goes on to tell Aurora, goddess of the dawn, “I wither slowly in thine arms”. He expresses a passionate grief about this while he is now a “gray shadow” that was once a glorious and beautiful man chosen by Aurora to be her lover. He remembers long ago that he had asked Aurora to grant him eternal life, but the hours that accompanied Aurora were angry at Tithonus as he was able to resist death. Now, though he cannot die, he remains forever old and has to endure waking up to Aurora who is able to renew herself every morning, consequently stays forever young.
In the third stanza, just before the sun rises, Tithonus tells us that he can see the “dark world” where he was born and was a mortal being. Aurora is told by Tithonus that she always grows beautiful, but she then leaves suddenly without having answered his request, “In silence, then before thine answer given departest, and thy tears are on my cheek” which tells us the sadness he feels about his curse of being old but never dying. He also questions Aurora as to why she must “scare” him with her look of regret as this makes him fear that an old saying “The God’s themselves cannot recall their gifts” might not be true. Tithonus then sighs and starts to reminisce about his youth, and remembered how his body used to come alive when he lay down waiting for the dawn, “..and felt my blood glow with the glow that slowly crimson’d all”.
In the final stanza, Tithonus pleads with Aurora to not keep him imprisoned in the East as the sun always rises in the East, so he has to watch her rise...
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