Ulysses by Tennyson | 17 Important Questions and Answers

Ulysses by Tennyson | 17 Important Questions and Answers

Ulysses Short Questions and Answers


1. “I little profits………..

-Who is the hero in this poem. What is the cause behind his dissatisfaction with his life in Ithaca ?

Ans. Ulysses is the hero in Tennyson’s poem, ‘Ulysses‘. Ulysses is the legendary Greek hero in Homer’s epic Odyssey.

After coming back from Trojan War, Ulysses, has resumed to rule Ithaca but he feels, restless and idle among uneven landscape. The ‘Still hearth’ refers to the insipid domestic life. He feels disgust towards his lack lustre wife, Penelope. To rule his kingdom he feels fatigued as to measure out imperfect laws among his subjects who ‘hoard and sleep feed.’ They are so savage that they cannot make out his idealism and to be oneness with his strong zeal.

2. Who was Ulysses in Tennyson’s poem Ulysses?

Ans. Ulysses is the hero of Homer’s immortal epic Odyssey. He was the king of Ithaca, a rock Island in Greece. He was the most eloquent and sagacious of the Greek heroes who took part in Trojan War. Though he faced misfortune, on his voyage home of the Trojan War, coming home he found his wife Penelope and his son still devoted to.

In Tennyson’s Ulysses, Ulysses is an epitome of the spirit of zeal for adventure and knowledge.

3. “I will drink Life to the lees.” -Who is the speaker and why does he want to drink life to the lees’?

Ans. The Legendary Greek hero, Ulysses is the speaker. Ulysses is an epitome of wander lust. From his voyage he gathers experiences which, in turn, brings knowledge. After traversing miles and miles, he aspires to lead life in peace in his island Kingdom of Ithaca. But he is restless and disdains the leisure and contentment in life. For this he will leave nothing untested in life. He will drain the nectar of life to the dregs. He will lead a life of action and undertake to the very close.

4. “Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vext the dim sea : I am become a name.”

What is Hyades ? Explain the phrase ‘I am become a name’

Ans. In Greek ‘Hyades’ means ‘rainers’ i.e. a group of stars, the rising of which indicates rain and storm. Zeus transformed them from nymphs to stars.

Ulysses says that he has been active and fearless on the land as well as on the sea. He had not shirked from facing danger even when rainy clouds flew before the swift wind and the dark sky foretold heavy rain. For this he has become famous in many lands for his spirit and adventure.

5. “For always roaming with a hungry heart.” -Why does the speaker ufter this? What has he seen?

Ans. Ulysses is a man who tastes, life to the full and leaves nothing behind. His indomitable vigour longs for to know more and more.

Ulysses is a man of wander-lust. He travel lands after lands through various civilizations. For his adverturism he has come across with different people, their manners, their way of administration and the weather of their countries. Whenever he keeps his feet outside, he proves himself as an ardent votary of aspirations in man.

6. “Yer all experiences is an arch whetherto.”

-Who is the speaker ? Why ‘experiences’ compared to an ‘arch’?

Ans. Ulysses, the legendary Greek hero is the speaker here.

Here ‘arch’ curved structure, a gate way through which the domain of knowledge yet unseen and unknown shines with a faint light, stands for experiences which though Ulysses had experienced still to more. The more he tries to win fresh knowledge, the more there seems to be learnt. The border of the unexplored regions seems to retire before Ulysses in distance, the nearer he approaches them.

7. “And this gray spirit yearning in desire.”

-What does ‘gray spirit’ refer to? What imagery implied here?

Ans. Ulysses, the hero of Trojan war stands for ‘gray spirit’.

Ulysses’ wander-lust and quest for knowledge are compared to the voyage of a ship across the ocean at night. Knowledge is here compared to a star that has sunk beneath the horizon. Just as men might follow into another heaven a star that has set in their own, so Ulysses, old as he is, eagerly desires to gain new experiences of life such as no human being has ever yet attained

8. “As though to breathe were life. life piled on life”

What does life actually signify to the speaker ? Explain what is implied here?

Ans. Life does not mean mere breathing-being alive. Life means activity and motion. Knowledge is limit-less. Lives piled on lives are not sufficient for knowing all that there is to be known and seeing all that there is to be seen. Ulysses is given one life, and only a few years of this life remain to be lived. Life in Ithaca was for him a mere existence. So he should not rest on his Oars. Time is moving man fast to death; Sho he should not waste away single hour in inactivity. Moreover, an hour devoted to activity may bring him knew knowledge and may enable him to explore knew things.

9. “To follow knowledge like a sinking star,” -What is a sinking star? What imagery used here?

Ans. While passing below the horizon there is seen a star called a Sinking Star. Knowledge is here compared to a star that has sunk beneath the horizon. Ulysses, old as he is, eagerly, desires to gain new experiences of life such as no human being has over yet attained. These line, embodies Ulysses’ passion for knowledge and his challenge to defy gods.

10. Who is Ulysses’ son ? How is Ulysses solely different from his son?

Ans. Telemachus is the son of Ulysses and Penelope. When Ulysses left Troy he was a mere child but when returned after twenty years he was a full grown man.

Telemachus is clever and wise enough. He carries out the duties of kingship by holding the rod of authority which is a king usually holds. He sticks to the monotonous work of governing rugged subjects. But his activity is totally different form that of Ulysses. Ulysses treats him as ‘Mine own Telemachus’ to his comrades but, in him, the father found the want of passion for wander and knowledge. Ulysses longs for to be escaped from the boredom and hustle and bustle of life while Telemachus glues to the throne of Ithaca. Really, Telemachus is a foil to that of his, father.

11. “This is my son………………

He works his work, I mine.” -Who are the person referred to here and what work does each of them do? What is the significance of this line ?

Ans. Ulysses and Telemachus are the two persons referred to here. On them civilizations for ages progresses —One is the epitome of man’s inborn quest for knowledge and the other the epitome of duty performed at home. Ulysses travels and acquires knowledge while Telemachus performs his duties at home as a king.

Ulysses and Telemachus represent two kinds of activity. Telemachus is central in the sphere of the common duties of life. He represents a large number of people who are less adventurous in spirit, toil for the preservation and continuation of gains won by their more adventurous fellows. But, Ulysses represents a few who are in quest for knowledge. They undertake great risks to break new grounds. They propel civilization from higher to higher stages. Both keep the wheel of civilization in motion for all ages to come.

12. “You and I are old;

……but something ere the end.

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,” –Does the speaker feel any dejection ? What work is undone still not completed?

Ans. These lines express Ulysses’ resolve to go out again exploring new lands and acquiring new experience. He finds it dull to live a life of ease and comfort at home enjoying the warm company of his aged wife and ruling a savage people. He calls upon his old mariners to start on a fresh voyage so that they can explore a new land still to be explored before they die.

13. “For my purpose holds

To soil beyond the sunset, and the b this

of all the western stars, until I die.” -Who is the speaker ? What is meant by ‘beyond the sunset and the baths of all the western stars? Who do the two expressions establish ?

Ans. Ulysses, the legendary Greek hero is the speaker. ‘Beyond the sunset’ represents the western horizon where the sun gradually merges into the darkness of night. The “baths of all the western Stars’ represent the place in the western sea where the stars take their bath i.e. go down in the sea.

Both expressions establish man’s eternal quest for knowledge and unfulfilled lust for adventure.

14. “It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.” –Who is Achilles ? What is ‘Happy Isles ?”

Ans. Achilles is the hero of Homer’s Iliad. He was the son of Peleus and Thetis. He was one of the Greek heroes of Trojan war He slew the Trojan prince Hector. Ulysses longs for to come across Achilles after crossing the happy isles which is known as a group of islands off the coast of Africa. The Greeks called these islands their earthly paradise where the Greeks could reach after the end of life. Ulysses knows that the ocean may devour him but he is courageous to face the challenge.

Q. 15. “…………heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive to seek, to find, and not to yield.” -of what ‘heroic hearts’ does the speaker speak ? Relate the implication of ‘time and fate’ here? Do you find any symbolism here?

Ans. Ulysses, the Greek hero by ‘heroic hearts’. refers to himself and his marriners who accompanied him in his exploration of lands and seas.

Here ‘time’ refers to the old age of the brave mariners. ‘Fate’ here refers to the uphill journey of life and misfortunes faced by the mariners during their travel over lands and voyage over seas.

Symbolically, these lines represent man’s ceaseless work till death. Ulysses’ indomitable will holds the key to life’s success on earth and never to admit defeat.

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16. Do you find any conflict between Science and Religion?

Ans. Tennyson’s Ulysses shows the conflict between science and religion in the contrast of the characters of Ulysses and his son Telemachus. Ulysses embodies the Victorian passion for the exploration of new kingdoms of science and Telemachus respects for traditional religion. When Ulysses will adventure for knowledge, his son will pay ‘meek adoration to my household gods”.

17. “How dull it is to pause, to make an end to rust unburnish’d not to shine in used!” -Give the meaning of these lines.

Ans. The Greek legendary hero Ulysses, reflects that shallowness of existence is like a spiritual decay in a critical moment as if he has paused and come to a sudden end which is very insipid. He bewails for his life which is like an iron-work which rusts when left not be used. He craves to be existed with renewed force.

6 thoughts on “Ulysses by Tennyson | 17 Important Questions and Answers”

  1. Thank u so much sir those were very needed ….can u provide few questions like these from “The Tintern Abbey”??

  2. Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades



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