What is a summary of the poem "Tithonus" by Alfred Lord Tennyson?

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To understand "Tithonus" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, one needs to know the myth of Tithonus and Aurora. In the Greek legend, Aurora (or Eos), goddess of the dawn, fell in love with a man named Tithonus. Aurora, being immortal, asked Zeus to grant her husband immortality, which he did. However, Aurora forgot to mention that she wanted Tithonus to have eternal youth as well, so Tithonus's body aged and withered, but he was unable to die.

The poem is written with Tithonus as the speaker. He says to Aurora, "Me only cruel immortality consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms." Stanza 1 is a lament by Tithonus about his state. Stanza 2 recounts how Aurora is so freely granted this request for immortality and how Tithonus aged. Now, instead of being more like Aurora, he is even more her opposite. She is immortal youth, but he is immortal age. He asks her to take back her gift and let him go.

Stanza 3 describes the beauty of the sunrise, but Stanza 4 notes that as the day progresses and turns to evening, Aurora remains silent, not answering his request that she take back her gift. Stanza 6 suggests that she does not answer because she does not want him to know the hard truth, namely, that gods cannot take back the gifts they have granted.

In Stanza 7, Tithonus remembers the days of his youth, when he and Aurora could enjoy the pleasures of being young together. The final stanza contrasts the warm love he shared with Aurora in his youth to the coldness of his existence now that he has aged. He longs to have the "power to die" and envies those who are already in their graves. He again asks to be released from immortality and assures Aurora that she will still see him when she sees his grave.

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Any work that you submit to your teacher should hopefully be done in your own words; at eNotes we are here to help you find your answers, and to give suggestions that will help you.  I provided a link below to a really great and in-depth summary of the poem that you should take a look at; it will hopefully help you to understand it a bit better.

In a nutshell, Tennyson, in the poem, is writing from the point of view of Tithonus, the former lover of the goddess of the dawn, Aurora.  Aurora has granted him the gift of eternal life, but not the gift of eternal youth, so Tithonus grows older and older, without the ability to die.  Tennyson, in the poem, speaks as Tithonus might have, mourning over how lonely he feels, how he doesn't feel a part of the human community anymore ("Why should a man desire in any way/To vary from the kindly race of men"), how he misses his youth and beauty, and how immortality isn't all it's cracked up to be ("Of happy men have the power to die").  He begs the beautiful Aurora to "Let me go:  take back thy gift" and allow him to be "restored...to the ground."

It is a beautifully written poem filled with longing and imagery that enhances the sad and lonely plight of Tithonus.  I hope this helped!

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