Ulysses for National Poetry Day

Ulysses, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Today, 6th October, is apparently National Poetry Day in the UK.

When young and a keen writer, of course I penned poetry, but I was also a poetic soul. So it was that when I graduated from university I embarked upon a wonderful railway journey for a month across Europe, before arriving at Istanbul in Turkey. And then I spent another month, hitchhiking around Turkey, going far east into Kurdistan but also seeking out some of the great cities of the ancient world.

It was my intention to visit Hisarlik, south of the Dardanelles Strait and close to Pergamon, and now known to be home to the once-mythical city of Troy. For on my travels I had taken with my a copy of Tennyson’s great poem Ulysses that I memmorized during the journey so that I could declaim it across the Trojan battlefield:


[By User: Bgabel at wikivoyage shared, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23024801%5D

My tribute to the romantic world of the ancients and a time when men consorted with gods.

Today I find poetry is like the song lyrics I picked up in my youth. Neither can be unlearnt. My memory may sometimes appear too full to learn new things, yet these old treasures remain. Which is appropriate because Ulysses is of course a poem about aging, and also about wanting to strive to continue the great things that before had come so easily to us. The lines:

Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

connect me to my previous post about Elon Musk’s plan to colonize Mars, wondering if that will be an epic journey I may make in my lifetime. And if I do I imagine it will be the last great journey (though how I want to visit Saturn too!).

To test myself and the power of memory, I just recorded the poem. I hope you enjoy this national poety day treat. Click the link at the top of the post or listen to it here.


~ by keithmansfield on October 6, 2016.

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