Tithonus Poem Summary
Tithonus speaks to his beloved, the goddess Eos (or Aurora). The woods are decaying, men work the land on the other hand die and lie beneath it, and therefore the swan dies after a few years. Tithonus, however, lingers on in “cruel immortality.” He has become immortal, but he’s old, withering within the arms of his beloved on the eastern fringe of the planet, and feeling sort of a wandering shadow.
He was once a person, he says, feeling “glorious in his beauty” and in being chosen by this goddess. He asked for immortality, and she or he got it for him, yet he still aged and aged. Meanwhile she is eternally young, so their existence is “immortal age beside immortal youth.” Is her love enough to beat this horror? Why should anyone want this type of special treatment and avoid the traditional death of mortals?
When a soft breeze parts the clouds, Tithonus can see the world below. He sees the glimmer in his beloved’s brow, her cheeks reddening, her eyes brightening, at the prospect of bringing dawn together with her horses and chariot.
The constant renewal of the dawn brings her to tears when she looks at Tithonus in contrast. Tithonus is afraid that it’ll be true that “the Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts,” that his situation will continue forever.
He remembers, as if from another life or as another man when he wont to love the experience of the dawn: the outline forming around her, the “sunny rings” of hair, his blood glowing because the day would warm, the sensation of the dawn kissing him. She would whisper something otherworldly, like “that strange song I heard Apollo sing / While Ilion sort of a mist rose into towers.”
He asks her to release him and restore him to mortality and therefore the grave because his nature can never truly mix with hers. He experiences the coolness of her “rosy shadows” while the lads below are still warmed by the day. These men are happy and possess “the power to die,” and are even happier in death. By letting him go, she would still be ready to see his grave eternally. By returning to the world he would forget “these empty courts,” while she would still bring the dawn on her silver wheels.
Tithonus Poem Analysis
Tennyson first wrote “Tithonus” in 1833 as a pendant (companion) poem to parallel “Ulysses.” Tithonus achieves immortality, but not the type that Ulysses desires. While Ulysses wants to remain alive to stay adventuring, able to fight his next battle despite his adulthood, Tithonus is stuck within the eternal cycle of the dawn and becomes weaker and colder the longer he lives. While his beloved is happy to travel through an equivalent motions day after day, Tithonus (like Ulysses) understands that mortals are built for something else—to live than to die. With no vision of the latest adventures ahead, (unlike Ulysses), Tithonus is prepared to die.
Like “Ulysses,” “Morte d’Arthur,” and “Tiresias,” “Tithonus” memorializes and expresses Tennyson’s feelings about the death of his close friend Arthur Henry Hallam. it’s suggested that he comprised this poem after hearing his fiancée’s comment, “None of the Tennysons ever die.” The poem was changed slightly and published in 1859 in Cornhill Magazine, edited by William Makepeace Thackeray.
The poem may be a dramatic monologue spoken by Tithonus, primarily to his beloved, Eos, goddess of the dawn (Aurora in Roman myth). it’s seven stanzas in the poem, and its meter is iambic pentameter, perhaps reflecting the unnatural combination of mortal and immortal. There are not any heroic (rhyming) couplets unless one counts the 2 lines ending with an equivalent word,
To dwell in presence of immortal youth, / Immortal age beside immortal youth,
which emphasizes the contrast between them.
The poem’s tragic situation is predicated on the Greek myth of Tithonus of Troy and Eos. Tithonus wasn’t entirely human, being the son of King Laomedon of Troy by a water nymph. within the myth, Eos kidnapped him and asked Zeus for Tithonus to receive life eternal, but she neglected to stipulate eternal youth. Thus, Tithonus grows older and withers away without ever dying. In later versions he becomes a cicada who begs to die. Tennyson’s poem is additionally indebted to the autumn of Hyperion by Keats, during which Moneta features a similar fate.
In Tennyson’s poem, Tithonus is the one who requested immortality. He seems to possess wanted it for no other purpose than to stay admiring Eos and being admired by her. Though he also was pleased with his beauty, he didn’t think to invite eternal youth. Thus began the unintended consequences of missing an important technicality. he’s utterly miserable that he cannot partake within the death that’s the due of each mortal. people that know they’re going to die will live a special quiet life, perhaps a happier one, and that they are all the happier for achieving their natural end once they die (without regard to whatever may happen after that).
Thus “Tithonus,” like “Ulysses,” maybe a crisis lyric, though the crisis is different. Here death is to be desired, not feared since it’s a part of the natural cycle of mortal species. Tithonus rejects the ever-freshness of the dawn cycle of a goddess in favor of absorption into the life-and-death cycle of mortal species. Understanding now of view clarifies why, within the first stanza, Tithonus admires the swan who dies; he sees his quite immortality, instead of death, as “cruel.”
One critic, William Flesch, writes that “time is that the name for the pressure of eternity, not ephemerality, for a future which will be endless and endlessly more bleak.” this is often Tithonus’s experience with time, unlike that of Eos, who brightens up to bring equivalent dawn to the planet over and once again. Her time cycle is circular, while his remains are linear. He doesn’t properly participate in her natural rhythm, nor does he participate within the quite human aging that leads properly to death (whether or not one’s existence then opens out into something else).
This problem is known by Eos: he continually asks her for release from his imprisonment in his withering body, and she or he answers with tears but no help. Arthur D. Ward notes,
Tithonus’ use of the word “ever” implies that this cycle has been enacted for ages. “Ever thus” she answers his prayer for release only with her tears. Ever frightened by her answer, he eludes it, flees to the past, and emerges to repeat his request and renew the cycle. Thus the structure of Tithonus’ monologue is further evidence of his absolute passivity. As his environment, shaped and measured by the daily departure of Eos and her dawn-chariot, is cyclical and repetitive, so is his consciousness.