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Ulysses

Ulysses

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Eating and Drinking

Symbol Analysis

As the king of Ithaca, Ulysses doesn't have a lot do besides eat and sleep and act as a judge every once and a while. In fact, he's not too happy about just sitting around eating and drinking all day. He's hungry, sure, but for something else. He sees the people who just sit around eating food and sleeping – his subjects – as more like animals than people. This is partly why Ulysses has lost his appetite for ease, tranquility, and regular food.

  • Line 5: Ulysses refers to his subjects as a "savage race," who do nothing but eat and sleep, which makes them more like brutes or "savages," than civilized people.
  • Lines 6-7: Ulysses says he will "drink / Life to the lees," an old version of "live life to the fullest." Living life is here compared to drinking a bottle of something; because "like" or "as" do not appear, it's a metaphor, not a simile.
  • Line 12: Ulysses explains that he's seen so many places because he's like a predatory animal with a "hungry heart." He tacitly compares himself to a lion or tiger, which makes this a metaphor.
  • Line 16: Ulysses refers to his enjoyment of battle as a kind of consumption, a "drinking" of "delight." Enjoying the delight of battle is compared to the drinking of some kind of beverage, which means this is a metaphor.

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