Gregorio Lazzarini, Aurora and Tithonus; Greek stele What ’s happening here?
Blank verse; a number of indented verse paragraphs; voice of ‘Tennyson’,
Why does Tennyson choose this myth to write about so soon after his friend ’s death?
Context for ‘Ulysses’, ‘Tithonus’• ‘Ulysses’ was written within three weeks of hisfriend Arthur Hallam’s early death in 1833.• According to Tennyson the poem was writtenunder ‘a sense of loss and all that had gone by’;this is balanced by his thought that ‘still life mustbe fought out to the end.’• ‘Tithonus’ was also written in the period followingHallam’s death, probably in 1833.• It was first published in 1860
The Myth of Tithonus• The goddess of the Dawn, Eos (Gk.) /Aurora (Lat.), like her sisterSelene , the Moon-Goddess, sometimes fell in love with mortal men.• Her greatest favourite was Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy.• She stole him away, and prevailed on Jupiter (Zeus) to grant himimmortality.• She forgot to ask for him to be granted eternal youth.• He grew old. She left him.• He still had the range of her palace, lived on ambrosial food, andwas clad in celestial raiment.• At length he lost the power of using his limbs• Then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voicemight at times be heard.• Finally she turned him into a grasshopper.
Form, structure• What kind of poem is this?– dramatic monologue in a number of verse paragraphs• Why is blank verse used?– Iambic pentameter to capture the flexibility and character of a speaking voice• What is the narrative perspective of the verse?– first person narrator/self-dramatising– recreation of self and his youthful unthinking past vs tired voice of the white-haired speaker– What is the effect of the poet addressing Aurora, who does not speak?• How is the poem structured? (What happens in the poem?)– Is it imagined as being spoken at dawn with the gradual spread of light? (How isthis done?)– What is the season?– speaker’s melancholic reflections on change, leads to his account of his owncondition, reflects on his story and how he came to be immortal, remembers thepast fondly, ends in despair
Language:1. What is the effect of the inversion in line 5, with regard torhythm and intention?2. Why does Tithonius refer to himself as ‘he’ (lines 11-14)?3. What use is made of colour throughout?4. What use is made of formal, elevated diction?5. What use is made of repetition/ anaphora?6. What patterns of figurative language are there,especially of natural imagery?7. What use of sound, especially assonance, is there?8. What use of the poetic apostrophe is there?
Language:9. How is emotive language used?10. How is sensuous detail used?11. How are questions used?12. What verbs seem especially significant, andwhy?13. What patterns in language can you see?14. On several occasions there is a single line ofreported speech. To what effect?15. Enjambment and caesurae perhaps give thepoem a slow pace. Where is this especiallysignificant?
Language: contrasts• What contrast is made between the personaof Tithonus and the natural world at thebeginning of the poem?• Find words and phrases to show the contrastbetween the aged Tithonius and Aurora/Eos.Analyse their impact.• Identify the joys of youth, as presented in thepoem. With what words are they presented?• It has been said that the poem is a realisation ofa long and meaningless future, after Hallam’sdeath. Your thoughts?