“The poems you have studied focus on the issue of age. Discuss the various attitudes presented in “Tithonus” and two of the modern poems and compare how the poets present their views. With which views do you most sympathise? I have chosen to base my writing on “Tithonus” a pre – 20th Century poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, about a man who wanted so much to be with his love Aurora and is now paying the price of eternal life. “Warning recent poem written by Jenny Jones, based upon a woman talking to her husband saying how much she wants to be old and carefree.
Plus “Geriatric Ward” a depressing poem written by Phoebe Hesketh, based on the less bags which are the elderly, left to waste away in a hospital. Firstly I would like to deal with “Tithonus” this pre 20th Century poem is largely based around the emphasis “Be careful what you wish for”. Tithonus was ordinary man with extraordinary looks. He was a mortal who had fallen in love with Aurora the goddess of the dawn. Aurora is immortal and born again fresh and beautiful each dawn.
Being a goddess she has the power to grant a mortal one wish, loving Tithonus as she did she granted him the wish of immortality. This meant that Tithonus was everlasting, one thing he forgot to ask for though was everlasting youth. So Tithonus is forever, stuck in a body withering away every second. Tennyson attitude to old age in the case of Tithonus is one of gloom and misery. He would much rather die, this would mean freedom from his frail body and happiness as his nightmare would be over and he would be able to have the ability to die like any normal man.
He develops the theme of the story by comparing himself with nature, the woods symbolise the death he craves so passionatly with comparrisons such as: -“I wither slowly in thine arms”, the word wither reminds us of a leaf falling from a tree like the tree Tithonus body is decaying. Twice he compares himself to a shadow of his former self: – “A white-hair’d shadow roaming like a dream” also the word roaming suggests he has nothing to do. The other example is: – “Alas! , for this grey haired shadow” a dramatic contrast between his former self.
He envys mortal men who have the power to die:- “Why should a man desire in any way to vary from the kindly race of men” he thinks than no man should live passed their expectancy. He learned this lesson to late. He develops Aurora in to a perfect specie. His comparrisons and the way he describes her makes us think of the most perfect creature. Aurora is the goddess of the dawn born again each morn young and fresh as the next, she is the most beautiful of the godessess.
Being a godess she is immortal so she will never age this is a problem for Tithonus who has to live each day wondering does she love me or pity me: – “Lo! , ever thus thou growest beautiful in scilence, then before thine answer given Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek. ” The tone of the story is one of anger and despair. As the story is being written from Tithonus point of view he is very distrought as he cannot live a normal life, he will be forever ageing and is unable to do anything about it. Example of his anger: – “Let me go take back thy gift. ” He is annoyed that he is unable to have a normal human life.