Ulysses "To Strive, To Seek, To Find, And Not To Yield"

James Joyce

"To Strive, To Seek, To Find, And Not To Yield"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Ulysses bequeaths the rule of his island to his son Telemachus, who will use "slow prudence to make mild/ A rugged people. . . ." Ulysses admires his son's mild domesticity, and he accepts their difference in character: "He works his work, I mine." Ulysses calls on his old companions to join him in new travels: "Old age hath yet his honor and his toil . . . Some work of noble note, may yet be done,/ Not unbecoming men that strove with gods." The will, Tennyson says, is unconquerable, and an adventurous life is its own reward:

Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.