” He is one of the greatestrepresentative figures of the Victorian Age. His writing incorporates many poetic stylesand includes some of the finest idyllic poetry in the language. He is one of the few poets tohave produced acknowledged masterpieces in so many different poetic genres; heimplemented perhaps the most distinguished and versatile of all the written works in theEnglish language. The first time I read The Lotus-Eaters1, I have to admit that I had a heartydislike for it.
Having read The Odyssey in Literature class last year, this seemed like itsreplica. It occurred to me that Tennyson was plagiarizing Homer. But when I reread thepoem with greater depth, I noticed its poetic techniques, imagery, symbols, etc. It wasreally exceptional actually, although the meter didnt remain uniform. But when youthoroughly understand it, you see how it pertains and is true to life.
This being the first time I had ever come about a work by Tennyson. I didnt knowanything about his life. The idea that manifested me was that when writing this poem,Tennyson was depressed and cynical. Sort of like Hamlet2 in the To be or not to besoliloquy. In one point in the poem, he says, Death is the end of the world. .
. life all laborbe? I think he meant that life is hard to live; there are so many obstacles, so many wrongturns, and you can never go back and change anything. II. Analysis of Poem A. Summary The poem is about the journey of Odysseus to the Land of the Lotus Eaters.
Here they encounter a race of creatures known as the Lotophagi (lotus eaters). TheyLotophagi spend their days in a daze, literally. This was the effect of the lotus flower. It was a primitive version of narcotics. The Lotophagi offered the plant to Odysseus and his crew members. Some of the clique ate it.
And then, they too, experienced a state of euphoria. Under these circumstances, they start speaking of staying over hereland of Lotos Eaters, and only dream about home. They forget their wives and children; only dream about them. Subsequently, the entire crew ate the lotos plant.
Tennyson describes euphoria as Falling asleep in a half-dream. They hallucinate about their wives and homes. It has been a considerable amount of time since they have had left Ithaca3. They ponder about what has changed. At the end, heOdysseus concluded We will not wander more, meaning that they will just stay put. B.
Style The first five stanzas are narrative. They are in the Spenserian stanza form, which is associated with tales of adventure and action. The opening word of Odysseus to his men is courage, an ironic command because the rest of the poem shows their courage ebbing away. Arriving on the shore of this beautiful and dreamy land, the mariners disembark amidst a crowd of the inhabitants, who offer them the fruits of the lotos tree. As soon as they taste the fruit the men feel weary. No longer eager to return home to Ithaca, they are content to rest where they are.
The rest of the poem, from line 46, is the song (choric song) sung by the mariners. In it they express the beauty of lotus-land and their own heavy and melancholy sense of fatigue. In the fourth stanza of the song, the repeated phrase “Let us alone” captures their feelings. The lines of the song are irregular in length but repetitious in phrasing, giving a lazy and stupor feeling, as if they are in a state of torpor.
The stanzas gradually become longer toward the end of the poem, hinting their confusion and ominous feelings. The last stanza has twenty-eight lines. In it the mariners suggest that they will lie about like the gods on Olympus, who apathetically and carelessly disrupt the lives of people on earth for their own idle amusement. The argument they present is that since the gods can so easily spoil people’s lives and thwart their efforts, why should they aspire to anything but rest and relaxation? They conclude, “We will not wander more. ” C. Symbolism I wonder about the symbolism of Odysseus’ enc ounter with the Lotos-Eaters.
After so many years of battle, after so much grief and trauma that Odysseus and his men spent, they need to escape into a dreamlike world in which they may begin their healing. Psychologically, the deeper the pain one has experienced, the more often one is drawn to experiences of ecstasy in order to counter it. On a a deeper level, the Lotophagi experience appears to be an antecedent of the adventures that follow – with the Cyclops, Circe, Calypso, and the Sirens4. There are a lot of images in the poem. There is also a brief hint of foreshadowing; In whichthe island of the Lotos-Eaters it always seemd afternoon, meaning that when you are in a state of happiness, everything seems the same.
That only when you are drugged is that you get in this state of being. His voice was thin. . . his beating heart did make. This describes a primitive rendition of drug addicts.
D. Theme One of the recurring themes in many poems is the conflict between personal fulfillment and public responsibility. That is, often the character in the poem is pulled one way by something he or she wants to do, and another way by a sense of duty or obligation that must be performed. This is the theme of The Lotos-Eaters also. Odysseus, the narrator and the captain of the crew, is caught between achieving euphoria and getting the crew back to Ithaca. In the end, however, we find out that his hubris has caused him to stay on this island.
And as he says, we will not wander more. That he has given in to personal fulfillment. Also, if you read The Odyssey, youll find that the entire story is based on the our personal odysseys. It has things that we, as humans, face in everyday life; desire, temptation, lust, etc.
The island of the Lotos Eaters has one of the things us teenagers face everyday; drugs. Just as the lotos eaters tempt the crew, we get peer pressure from our friends and society. So this poem is just one part of our jorney of life, as Tenyson describes it. III. Poems Place in Authors Career Although Tennyson dealt with romantic views of war and heroes, in contrast to other writers of his day, he felt that poetry should reflect a certain formality borrowed from Greek tragedy literature.
In “The Lotos-Eaters,” Tennyson was true to his heart. As such, the poem reflects the ideals of the imperialism and his own personal goals-war causes heroes, and heroes in death go to a glorious afterlife. This seems a little farfetched, but his was Tennysons philosophy. Although he borrowed from biblical and Greek-tragedy sources, his characters and nature are also contemporary, and transcend all the realms together. The Lotos-Eaters was written in 1833, when he published a volume of poems that included his famous The Lady of Shalott.
During his undergraduate days at Cambridge he often did not bother to write down his compositions. We owe the first version of “The Lotos-Eaters” to Arthur Hallam, who reproduced it from Tennysons tidbits of information. IV. The Poems Place in its Time Tennyson turned to questions of death, religious faith, and immortality in a series of short poems, of which The Lotus-Eaters was a part. Tennyson had a way of achieving a covenant with his public. He gave them what they wanted.
For example, the poem Princess was won by the hearts of the millions because it supported the womens rights, which was one of the issues just igniting at that time. His consummately craftedverse expressed the terms of the Victorian feeling for order and harmony. Unlike Dickens, who was present in Tennesons time and a social critic, Tennyson didnt seem to find an ill to society. Maybe that is why he was given the title of Lord and not Dickens. V. Bibliography1.
Lord Alfred Tennyson, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99, October 19992. The Norton Anthology of Poetry, The Lotos-Eaters, W. W. Norton & Company,New York, 1997, p. 540. 3.
World Wide Web-http://charon. sfsu. edu/TENNYSON/tennyson. html.