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?
Language starter• Look at the quotations selected below. – Write a sentence about how they strike you, paying particular attention to language and imagery. – Me only cruel immortality/ Consumes: – after many a summer dies the swan – Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath – Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine/ Ere yet they blind the stars
Context for ‘Ulysses’, ‘Tithonus’• ‘Ulysses’ was written within three weeks of his friend Arthur Hallam’s early death in 1833.• According to Tennyson the poem was written under ‘a sense of loss and all that had gone by’; this is balanced by his thought that ‘still life must be fought out to the end.’• ‘Tithonus’ was also written in the period following Hallam’s death, probably in 1833.• It was first published in 1860
The Myth of Tithonus• The goddess of the Dawn, Eos, like her sister Selene , the Moon- Goddess, was at times inspired with the love of mortals.• Her greatest favourite was Tithonus son of Laomedon, king of Troy.• She stole him away, and prevailed on Jupiter (Zeus) to grant him immortality.• 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, and was clad in celestial raiment.• At length he lost the power of using his limbs, and then she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice might at times be heard.• Finally she turned him into a grasshopper.
Form, structure, language?• What kind of poem is this? – dramatic monologue• Why is blank verse used? – to capture the flexibility and character of a speaking voice• What is the impact of the versification? – ?• What happens in the poem (and how is it structured, therefore?) – Is it imagined as being spoken at dawn with the gradual spread of light? (How is this done?) – What is the effect of the poet addressing Aurora?
Language:• What is the effect of the inversion in line 5, with regard to rhythm and intention?• Why does Tithonius refer to himself as ‘he’ (lines 11-14)?• What use is made of colour throughout?• What use is made of formal, elevated diction?• What use of repetition/ anaphora?• What patterns of figurative language are there?• What use of sound is there?
Language: contrasts• What contrast is made between the persona of Tithonus and the natural world at the beginning of the poem?• Find words and phrases to show the contrast between the aged Tithonius and Aurora. Analyse their impact.• Identify the joys of youth, as presented in the poem. With what words are they presented?• It has been said that the poem is a realisation of a long and meaningless future, after Hallam’s death. Your thoughts?