Tennyson Poems

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  • Created by: Abi
  • Created on: 25-04-13 17:38

The Lotos Eaters

Odysseus and his mariners arrive in a land where it "always seems to be afternoon". They are greeted by the "mild eyed melanchony lotos eaters", whose faces appear pale against the rosy suset - pale like death? The lotos eaters offer the fruit to Odysseus' men, and those who have eaten it feel as if they've fallen into a deep sleep. They talk about their homes, wives, children and slaves, but still decide that they have had enough wandering, and that they will stay here. They argue that everything else in nature is able to rest and stay still, but man is tossed from one sorrow to another. They decide that their inner spirits are telling them that tranquility and calmness offer the only joy. 

Key themes:

Lotos eaters are a race in Greek mythology that live on an island dominated by Lotos plants. The flowers and fruits of the plants were the primary food of the island, and were narcotics. This caused the people to sleep in peaceful apathy; resulting in a detachment from society.

- The beat of the poem reflects the slumber effect of the plants - steady and unrelentless.

- The passage of time is shown through nature and how it changes whilst they're there: "the folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud". Something romantic and sentimental about this quote - the use of "woo'd" implies a caring and kind nature on the island, something which hides the danger of the plants. 

- The narrator begins to see death as one long sleep, and this is cosidered positive. This shows the effect of the narcotics on these once strong and brave soldiers. 

- The poem is one long thought trail. Spontaneous and uncontrolled - show through the lack of rhyming. The rhythm may then come from the narrator's hyper sensitivity to his heart beat (ie, what is keeping him alive). 

- Stanzas become more sinister through the poem, moving gradually from positive to negative. Where at first the soldiers have "courage", they now say they will "wander no more". The use of "wander" belittles their journey, which was for the ten year long Battle of Troy. 

- Poppy seeds: opium - written in the Victorian era, and highly likely that Tennyson was a drug user. Effects are: emotional detachment, euphoria, numbness and feelings of death.

-  In the third stanza, the colours momve from being bright colours - "red", which have strong conotations - to more 'submissive' colours, such as "mild eyes" and "pale faces". This could be seen to imply innocence of the characters; but could also be interpreted as a loss of vitality and life. 




Passing of time


Dream vs reality 

  • The bud creates the eutopia with flowering?


This poem was written at a traumatic time in Tennyson's life, shortly after the deaths of his father and two close friends. The poem shows Ulysses, who has returned home after battle but yearns to travel again, as



Detailed and useful notes on the collection of poems, could be used to help you understand the poems on first reading or to add to your own notes and annotations when revising.

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