Study Guide

Ulysses Speaker

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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Ulysses is the speaker of the poem that bears his name; he's a semi-retired soldier who's also a king. In many ways he's a lot like a vet you'd meet at the VA hospital, or your friend's grandpa who fought in World War II. You're sitting around talking to this guy, and he starts going on about how bored he is, how bad the food is at the nursing home, how he wishes he could still be in the army and travel around the world. His legs are still strong, and so is his mind. As he continues to talk, he gets more and more animated, finally realizing that if he still feels good he should try to do the things he used to, regardless of what anybody says. Towards the end of the conversation, he goes into the other room and comes back dressed in his old army uniform. In response to your surprise, he gives an incredibly heroic speech about how he's willing to brave death to do what he wants to do and picks up the phone to dial the local recruiting office.

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