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The Victorian Era was a time of originality, elegance, and creative imagination. However, it was also a time of change and of contrast, of very wealthy people and very poor people. It was an era filled with emotion that dominated the lives of many of its poets and its people. The poetry of the period reflected the intensity and depth to which emotion was felt. Poems were filled with images of beauty, romance, love, and sadness. Alfred Lord Tennyson was among the most well known of Victorian poets. He even earned the title of Poet Laureate in 1850. His works were largely filled with melancholy and sadness, as is characteristic of Victorian poetry. The poetry Tennyson wrote mirrored moral and intellectual values of the time he lived in. A poem that was not included in our readings was Tithonus. It is one that should have been included. It is a poem that reflects the feeling of the Victorian era, encompasses the love and regret of the Trojan prince Tithonus, and serves to demonstrate the beauty of Victorian poetry.


The poem Tithonus reflects the feeling of the Victorian era rather well. It is a poem that is reflecting Prince Tithonus’s feelings. As you read the poem, you can truly feel Tithonus’s regret at doing what he has done in accepting immortality. Tithonus was the brother of Priam, who was king of Troy. When Tithonus was a young man, Aurora, goddess of the dawn, noticed his good looks. Unfortunately, she had a habit of carrying off handsome young men she was attracted to. She abducted Tithonus and asked Zeus to grant him immortality (which he did). The problem was she forgot to ask for eternal youth to go with it. Tithonus, after fathering her two sons, just got older and older and older and older and older until he was all shriveled and could only chirp like a cicada (but obviously cannot die).


This obviously presents a problem because I am sure that Tithonus thought that once you were given immortality that youth was something that came with it, no questions asked. Tithonus is absolutely, positively miserable. “Alas! For this gray shadow, once a man …” (Norton, 106). In this line, he speaks of himself and as you can see, he is not in high spirits. He speaks of himself as having once been a man, now all that remains is a shadow, a reminder, of what he once was. “Let me go; take back thy gift/ Why should a man desire in any way/ To vary from the kindly race of men,/ or pass beyond the goal of ordinance …” (Norton, 1070). Here you can sense his distress. He wants Aurora to take back what she has given him. His mind and heart are filled with despondency and the desire to be what he once was; mortal, vulnerable to anything which cannot touch the deathless. “But thy strong Hours indignant worked their wills,/ And beat me down and marred and wasted me,/ And though they could not end me, left me maimed/ To dwell in presence of immortal youth, Immortal age beside immortal youth,/ And all I was in ashes.” (Norton, 106-1070). Time has rendered his body just a shell of what it once was, young, powerful and resilient. His soul resides in a body that should have been given the chance to die, for it is nothing but a withered, emaciated thing. “…when the steam/ Floats up from those dim fields about the homes/ Of happy men that have the power to die,/ And grassy barrows of the happier dead.” (Norton, 1070-1071). The words he uses here are heart-wrenching. How strongly can we as the reader feel his desire to die like a mortal man? How strongly can we feel how much he wants to be one of them? He is pleading; let me go, please let me go, free of this life of misery and loneliness. He calls the dead happy, does that not say enough? “Release me, and restore me to the ground./ Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave; …” (Norton, 1071). How can you not want to give him the one thing he wants so badly? Just the release from this everlasting unhappiness will grant him serenity and relief he seeks. One can almost hold it against Aurora for doing what she did, because it almost seems she did it out of selfishness and she never thought of what changing Tithonus from mortal to an immortal might do to him emotionally or mentally.


This poem is a true example of the feeling of Victorian poetry and now that we have analyzed some of the poetry, you can really see Victorian poetry for what it is. Now you can feel the emotions of that era, and how intense they really were. This poetry is not to be taken lightly, especially Tennyson’s passionate poetry. He encompasses Victorian poetry in its entirety. Tithonus is simply a man whose reason and logic failed him, and he disrupted the natural order of his life by gaining immortality. It is only through this mistake that he truly learns.


Cheap College Papers on Alfred Lord Tennyson’s TITHONUS

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The poetry of this era can easily be regarded as being beautiful, as it is filled with spectacular images. Once you begin to read, each poem is short filmstrip for the mind. It is that vivid. Tithonus will dissuade any desire for immortality! Each of these poems of this era has a point, and a reason why it was written, even if it is not apparent to you upon reading it. The simple beauty and the fact that this poetry teaches moral and intellectual values make it very important, especially in today’s world, where people take everything for granted.


Tithonus should have been one of the poems included in our readings because it reflects the love and sadness of the Victorian age so well. It is a great example and for those who may have trouble interpreting poems, this is one which is easy to understand. It would have added to our knowledge of Victorian poetry and expanded the emotional experience. You simply cannot read a poem without becoming emotionally involved, and once you do become involved, by the end of the poem, you have learned something. I regret that it was not included and it should be in the future. It enriches our reading so much and gives us an experience that we cannot match. Alfred Lord Tennyson is a fantastic poet and should be incorporated into our curriculum as much as possible. A chance to learn of what the past was like is always a chance that should be taken advantage of, because it makes you a better person. Without poetry, I think that people would be dull, boring, and repressed. With it, we express ourselves as emotional beings and allow ourselves the emotional release we sometimes need. Poetry feeds the human soul and keeps us from being overcome with too much emotional stress. It allows us to realize that we are not alone in this world and how we feel has been felt by others in the past, present, and future.


Poetry will always remain to be one of the most important parts of literature, with new poets and new volumes of poetry being published every day. The poetry of the past, such as that of the Victorian era, will always be the key which opens the doors to new poetry.





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