Study Guide

Ulysses Sound Check

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Sound Check

Tennyson's poem is a lot like Mel Gibson's famous speech in Braveheart, or any other speech one might use to rouse a group of soldiers to action. You can't start out yelling because you won't have any energy left at the end; these things have to be planned carefully, and the best has to be saved for last.

The poem starts out by detailing a set of conditions or problems without overdoing it: "It little profits that an idle king…(1). Eventually, it gathers momentum, and Ulysses' voice starts to rise as he gets more and more excited. By the end he is in full force; he has reached the climactic moment and his moving and heroic lines are almost as memorable as Mel's, "They'll never take our freedom!" "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" could be used in almost situation where one needs to get a group of people pumped up: before a big game, before a big battle, or even before an important exam. Head over to "Best of the Web" to hear a couple of readings of the poem to see what we mean.

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