" is a representative Victorian poem in that it celebrates hard work and striving while expressing a sense of adventure, confidence, and optimism.
Ulysses is an old man in this poem, but a can-do spirit fills him to the brim. He is not content to sit on his laurels, thinking about his former achievements or deciding he is too old for new endeavors. Instead, he craves more. He states,
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
In other words, like a good Victorian, he wants to keep working for as long as he is able so that he can contribute to the world's forward progress. He shares the Victorian spirit of optimism that he can get more out life: he wants to experience life to the "lees," or dregs, saying,
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees.
His desire to travel all over the earth reflects the colonial spirit that made Great Britain the largest empire in the world in the Victorian era. He expresses the optimistic feeling that this growth does not need to end. He says that, although he is old,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Ulysses embodies the strong, positive, confident soul of the Victorians as he sums up his goals in the final lines of the poem:
strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
By the twentieth century, some of this assurance and vigor would have faded, especially after World War I, but Tennyson captured the zeitgeist of an age when Britain was at the height of its power.