Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tithonus

“I ask’d thee, ‘Give me immortality.’
Then didst thou grant mine asking me with a smile,
Like wealthy men who care not how they give….”

The above is an extract from my most favourite poem till date.

‘Tithonus’, written by Lord Alfred Tennyson, is a dramatic monologue, which talks about the handsome Tithonus and the Goddess of dawn, Aurora. When Lord Alfred Tennyson’s friend died at a very tender age, he almost went mad with sorrow. But, afterwards, he realized that death is important. At a certain age, death is a boon. Under this inspiration, he wrote this beautiful poem.
Tithonus had fallen in love with Goddess Aurora. Goddess Aurora loved him too. But, Tithonus made a big mistake when he asked for immortality from the Goddess. For her, it was just another favour to be granted. So, she happily presented Tithonus with the bane called immortality. Tithonus’ joy knew no bounds. This joy, blended with pride, gets reflected in the second stanza of the poem, where he says,
“So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem’d
To his great heart none other than a God!”
But, poor Tithonus! Goddess Aurora had granted him immortality, but not immortal youth. Of course, gods and goddesses never age. Although Ma Durga comes to Kolkata every year, we never find her hair graying. Similarly, Aurora was forever young. On the other hand, Tithonus was growing old every day. He was tired. All he wanted now was death. He only wanted to die like a normal human being. So, in the last stanza, he says, “Of happy men that have the power to die.” But then, he also assures Aurora that she would be able to see him even after he became mortal again. At least, she would be able to see his grave every day, when she would rise in the East.

So, we see that Tithonus loved Aurora. But, afterwards, he realized that he loved the life of a normal human being more. The poet does not tell us the ultimate destiny of Tithonus. Whether he became mortal again or not, is still a mystery. But, with such a rich concept and such a wonderful execution of the same concept, Lord Alfred Tennyson weaves magic. The central theme of the poem is the natural cycle of birth and death that goes on in this world. Many poets must have dealt with this. But, this topic becomes interesting when Lord Alfred Tennyson blends it with the topic of love. So, in this aspect, ‘Tithonus’ stands out. Hats off to Lord Alfred Tennyson for this!

14 comments:

~ Deeps ~ said...

have read that poem long time back...vaguely remember it now that u have mentioned.......

Subhadip said...

And hats off to you for writing such a nice post :-)

Chitrangada said...

very swreet post :)

but havn read much from tennyson ..:)

Rohit Talwar said...

I might sound dumb, but the only bit I can recall now is (that too because a cousin is almost of your age. :-/)
The gods themselves can't recall their gifts."

Woodsmoke said...

Excellent post. Very well written. I am going to dig for this poem online, since I cannot remember having read it ever. Forgive my ignorance but see what interest you ignited.

Atanu said...

Very wonderfully written. I can't imagine little Titli can write so well. Keep it up.

Titash Roy said...

Tennyson was never my poet, last I remember reading macavity but this one seems interesting, never read though!

Kanu said...

Thanks for writing this post...Would read the poem now...sounds good.

Butterfly said...

@Deeps
The poem is so good that one is bound to remember traces of it all through his/her life.:-)


@Subhadip Da
Thank You so much. I feel honoured.:-)


@Deepti Di
I haven’t read much of Tennyson either.:-)
But, I wud like to read more after this.


@ Rohit
Dumb? No, I don’t think so.:-)


@Woodsmoke
Thank You.:-)
Please tell me ur opinion about the poem if u manage 2 find it.



@Mama
Thank You for visiting my blog and also for admiring my post.:-)
Please continue visiting.


@Titash
You must read this poem, even though u don’t like Tennyson.:-)

@Kanu
You are always welcome!:-)

Rohit Talwar said...

Why don't you update?

Butterfly said...

@Rohit
Check now.:-)

Jayant said...

This is a really nice post! It's totally unlike anything you've written before. you made me fall in love with the poem, even though I've never read it before. That's saying something. :)

Butterfly said...

@Jayant
Thank You so much.:-)
Then, you shud read the poem as soon as possible.

Aritro Dasgupta said...

U know what.... Tennyson happens to be my fave poet ever.... So I am doubly pleased to find u swearing by him...