It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags




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Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson

(from Poems , London, Edward Moxon, Dover Street, 1842, 2 vols 1842)





  1. It little profits that an idle king,

  2. By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

  3. Match`d with an aged wife, I mete and dole

  4. Unequal laws unto a savage race,

  5. That hoard and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

  6. I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

  7. Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy`d

  8. Greatly, have suffer`d greatly, both with those

  9. That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when

  10. Thro` scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

  11. Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;

  12. For always roaming with a hungry heart

  13. Much have I seen and known; cities of men

  14. And manners, climates, councils, governments,

  15. Myself not least, but honour`d of them all;

  16. And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

  17. Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

  18. I am a part of all that I have met;

  19. Yet all experience is an arch wherethro`

  20. Gleams that untravell`d world, whose margin fades

  21. For ever and for ever when I move.

  22. How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

  23. To rust unburnish`d, not to shine in use!

  24. As tho` to breathe were life. Life piled on life

  25. Were all too little, and of one to me

  26. Little remains: but every hour is saved

  27. From that eternal silence, something more,

  28. A bringer of new things; and vile it were

  29. For some three suns to store and hoard myself,

  30. And this gray spirit yearning in desire

  31. To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,

  32. Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

  33. This is my son, mine own Telemachus,

  34. To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle -

  35. Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil

  36. This labour, by slow prudence to make mild

  37. A rugged people, and thro` soft degrees

  38. Subdue them to the useful and the good.

  39. Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere

  40. Of common duties, decent not to fail

  41. In offices of tenderness, and pay

  42. Meet adoration to my household gods,

  43. When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

  44. There lies the port: the vessel puffs her sail:

  45. There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,

  46. Souls that have toil`d, and wrought, and thought with me -

  47. That ever with a frolic welcome took

  48. The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

  49. Free hearts, free foreheads - you and I are old;

  50. Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

  51. Death closes all: but something ere the end,

  52. Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

  53. Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

  54. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

  55. The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

  56. Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

  57. `Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

  58. Push off, and sitting well in order smite

  59. The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

  60. To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

  61. Of all the western stars until I die.

  62. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

  63. It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

  64. And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

  65. Tho` much is taken, much abides; and tho`

  66. We are not now that strength which in old days

  67. Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

  68. One equal temper of heroic hearts,

  69. Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

  70. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield



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