Despite their differences forever, both of the poems share a fixation with death as a Journey, though there is contrast in how this is explored. Tennyson “Ulysses”, two Journeys are explored, the first being the Journey of the speaker Ulysses upon his return from the battle of Troy, during which he experiences greatness and develops a craving for adventure. The second Journey is the Journey that which his experiences have inspired him to desire to undertake, a Journey of fulfillment and “to follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought”.
Ulysses’ is intensely dissatisfied at the prospect wasting his existence as a stagnant ruler. In the first stanza Ulysses reflects on the travel and adventures that have shaped the very essence of his being, saying “l am a part of all that I have met”, detailing his restlessness in remaining stationary and without adventure in the line “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unfurnished, not to shine in use! “(Lines 23-24) The second part of the poem is a call to Ulysses’ faithful mariners to Join him on his quest for fulfillment, as “some work of noble work may yet be done/ not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. He believes that do so is his purpose “for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all stern stars, until I die. ” The theme of Journey depicted in Tennyson “Ulysses” is viewed through the desire of the protagonist to undertake a quest, traveling to the far reaches of the earth and searching for knowledge and fulfillment. The form of the poem, dramatic monologue, highlights the speakers’ perception that his is a valiant, noble quest, as it leaving the reader with the impression of a powerful leader rousing his troops before leading them to battle.
The melodic rhythm of the blank verse, which is written in unrushed iambic pentameter throughout most of the poem, however this rhythm gives the impression of movement, moving forward, reflecting Ulysses desire to not remaining stationary. This rhythm and sensation of movement is further developed through Tennyson use of enjambment, where the sentence is followed through to the next line, establishing a natural, Journey-like progression throughout the poem. The lines “To follow knowledge like a sinking star, beyond the utmost bound of human thought. ” (lines 32-33) is a key example of this.
The enjambment here causes the reader to stress the word “beyond”, a word that conjures imagery of a place to reach towards, the final destination of a Journey. The rhythm of the poem is also influenced by the use of monosyllabic words paired together to form sentences reinforce the forward movement of the poem, seen in the line “that hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. ” This poetic forward motion ties in with the Journey being described, of continuing to experience and discover. The language chosen by Tennyson is both richly metaphorical, and accessible.
The narrative voice of the speaker Ulysses is delivered in a conversational manner, seen in the sweeping nature of “All times I have enjoyed Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those that loved me, and alone, on shore… , the fluidity and ease of speech here gives the impression of a familial interaction. This conversational manner, the language used and the subject matter of the poem leads to a sense that Ulysses is speaking on a very personal level. Tennyson develops this by incorporating personal elements about Ulysses, including mention of his wife, son and his personal experiences and aspirations.
Combined, Tennyson may have intended to connect the reader to the personal Journey of spiritual fulfillment that Ulysses is undertaking, highlighting its importance. Tennyson also employs metaphor to support the sense of nobility of Ulysses’ quest. For example, the use of “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unfurnished, not to shine in use! ” is to reinforce Ulysses’ idea that to travel and to explore is to make the most of what one has. Dickinson “Because I could not stop for death” explores a different Journey, one of a woman to her death.
Dickinson “Because I could not stop for Death” explores a vastly different type of journey in it’s subject matter, which is the Journey of an unknown woman to the ultimate destination of death. The unknown female speaker describes death as an experience that she is looking back on. Death in this poem isn’t portrayed as something that inspires loneliness, sadness or fear, but more acceptance and contentedness, done through Dickinson personification of Death, rather than Just referring to it as an event in one’s life.
In this poem the speaker is communicating from beyond the grave, describing her Journey with towards death. The poem is comprised of six stanzas, the first five of which each represent a stage in the Journey of the speaker towards her final resting place. The speaker first is seemingly courted by Death, who arrives in a carriage. The pair slowly takes a Journey in a carriage wrought the various stages of the speakers’ life, passing a school, “fields of Gazing Grain” and finally the “Setting Sun”, before pausing finally before a house with “the Cornice -in the Ground. The house in the ground represents the final resting place of the body of the speaker, her grave. In the sixth and final stanza, the reader learns that centuries have passed since the final carriage ride to the speakers’ death, and that this Journey in Death’s carriage has continued ever since, though it “Feels shorter than the Day. ” Dickinson writes aphoristically, meaning she compresses a great deal of meaning into a small number of words. This is very important as the poem itself is a mere 6 stanzas, but the genius of the seemingly never ending layers of meaning make the poem to a degree open to interpretation.
The language Dickinson uses is thus both simple and complex, simple in the words themselves but complex in their meaning. An example of this is the use of the word “house”, a simple word initially conjuring images of its actual meaning, though given the context of the sentence is evocative of a grave, the final resting place in a long Journey. The way that Dickinson phrases the line “the carriage held but Just ourselves And Immortality’ evokes imagery of a coffin, which is furthered by the lines “we slowly drove”, “we passed the school.. The fields of gazing grain.. , the setting sun”, giving the impression of a funeral procession. Although again a Journey to the grave, it is in a more literal sense, the carrying of her physical being to the final resting place. In the lines “we passed the school.. , we passed the fields of gazing grain.. , we passed the setting sun”, Dickinson conjured images of another type of Journey, in the form of a metaphor that represents the speakers life. The three images chosen each represent stages in her life.
The school presents her childhood, the ‘Fields of Gazing Grain” the age of maturity and the fruitful adult stage in which one has the potential to do anything, and the “Setting Sun” the final years of ageing, the sun gradually getting lower until it finally sets; the final point of the sun on the horizon representing death. The rhythm is very effective in conveying the feeling of a Journey being undertaken, as it gives the impression of the sensation of horses’ hooves along the ground. The meter is slow and undulating, giving the feeling of rolling hills, mimicking the gentle movement of the carriage as it eves towards it’s destination. We passed the School, where Children strove/At Recess – in the Ring-” highlights this sensation, with the actual words themselves giving this feeling of moving forwards. The regular beat and rhythm of the poem, the meter of which is iambic tetrameter, also can be interpreted as the beating of the heart. Throughout the first to third stanzas the beat is regular, mimicking that of the slowing heartbeat, though in the fourth stanza the rhythm changes, almost as if the heart has been stopped.
This is another layer of meaning and feeling incorporated onto the poem that reinforces the central idea of the woman’s Journey to her death. The personification of Death (and of immortality) “he kindly stopped for me” (line 2) gives another layer to the Journey being experienced by the protagonist. Personifying Death as a gentleman, a potential suitor for the woman, and thus portraying their journey together as a courtship of sorts, serves to dispel the notion that death is a loathsome thing. By personifying ‘him’, Dickinson implies that death is a marriage, not a kidnapping as it has otherwise been portrayed.
The notion that the woman’s union tit death is a courtship is further reinforced by the description of the attire the woman is dressed in, a gown tulle and gossamer, attire not best suited to a funeral. Finally, the speaker reveals that this Journey has been carried out for centuries, reinforced by Dickinson use of repetition of the line “we passed”, which gives the initial insight into the continuity of the seemingly innocent outing. This Journey towards death is not explored in the conventional manner.
It is not a Journey of emotion, nor of fear, but of acceptance. In further analyzing Tennyson poem however, it can be seen that though the poet ACH have very different perspectives and ideas of Journey, both poems share a fascination with death. Both poems reflect the inevitability of death, though the protagonists’ acceptance of this differs greatly. The lines “eternal silence”, “its not t late”, “death closes all”, in Tennyson “Ulysses” all connect to the undertone that is evident throughout, that ultimately the final destination of any Journey is death.
Despite this undertone however, the overtones of Ulysses passionate aspirations reject this inevitability of death, Ulysses refusing to accept death until first having done all he can in life. Dickinson unknown protagonist however is accepting of her impending death, the voice passively aware of her death and showing no emotion o passion against this fact. As a result the tone of the poems differs, “Ulysses” filled with passionate language and seething with powerful emotion, while “Because I could not stop for Death” is emotionless, the speaker almost disassociated with ha is occurring.
Two significant similarities in how Tennyson and Dickinson develop their ideas of Journey throughout their respective poems are the rhythm of the poems and how they address the Journey of the protagonist through life. The meter and rhythm of both poems, highlight how the poems themselves conjure up images of Journey Just by the way the poem feels, as if encouraging the reader to continue and move forward as the protagonists themselves do in their respective Journeys.
Both reference the Journey of life, Dickinson through the imagery of the carriage traveling through the 3 stages of the speakers life, while Tennyson referencing the elements of Ulysses life and how these have shaped him; also talks about stages of life but in different ways. Tennyson focuses on the middle of Ulysses’ life, when he experienced most growth; in his travels, and on his old age – the slowing of life – as something he wants to rebel against, to push back.
In developing their respective poems around central theme of a Journey, both Tennyson and Dickinson protagonists themselves experience and undertake journeys, the natures of which however are vastly different. The poets Emily Dickinson and Lord Alfred Tennyson develop their ideas of Journey using similar techniques such as rhythm to encourage the reader to feel the progression of the journey being discussed, as well as techniques that the poems individually employ.