What are Ulysses' feelings about aging?
This question, the question of confronting the process of aging, is at the heart of Tennyson's "Ulysses." The poem is essentially the soliloquy of an aging Ulysses (the Latin form of Odysseus) reflecting upon his life from the boring comfort of his home, Ithaca. Throughout the poem, Ulysses rails against his advanced years, hating his old age for the perceived weakness and uselessness it brings.
Ulysses gives us several clues as to his feelings about old age, but there are a few particular examples that are worth noting. Consider, for instance, the following lines:
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! (22-3)
We are not now that strength which in old daysMoved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;One equal temper of heroic hearts,Made weak by time and fate, but strong in willTo strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. (66-70)