It is in the “small hours” of the night, if I’m awake, and when my emotional reserves are low and my mind wanders, that I sometimes have half real dreams or imaginings. These are sometimes quite haunting. It is during these “small hours” that I often recall the fact that there is an emptiness in the bed beside me which then opens a window into a host of memories.
It in times such as these (and not only in the “small hours”) that I - in fact all of us - need some inspiration to lift us out of the hole we may find ourselves in and give us hope for the future. Words of inspiration shine a light in the dark corners of our mind and dissipate the shadows and fearsome shapes our imaginings have created.
I have always found solace and inspiration in poetry – not everyone shares this of course – and is a retreat, a resource I frequent. Now the poem, “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, is such a one. It can be relied on to provide words of good cheer and inspiration when there is a general lack of “harmony” in my life. The words of the poem are a paean of praise to the indomitable human spirit; of the beauty of love for one’s fellow beings and the knowledge that we can always aspire to, and achieve, greater and grander things. They remind us that we humans are better than we could ever have imagined, and that we are all free to seek for, and to arrive at that moment in our lives when peace, harmony and contentment fill our hearts.
In this case the poem’s last six lines are the important ones:
“.....; and tho’
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.
“... but strong in will to seek, to strive, to find, and not to yield.” – powerful words.
The Romans called him Ulysses, but he was a Greek, called Odysseus. He was immortalised in Homer’s chronicles, the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”, about the siege of Troy and his epic journey home to his long suffering but faithful wife, after a twenty year absence.
In the context of the poem, Ulysses/Odysseus is now an old man. But he is still fired by the thought of greater things to do and greater feats of endurance.
Ulysses/Odysseus was not only a brave and fearless fighter, but also a brilliant tactician – it was he who devised the famous Trojan Horse that was used by the Greeks to finally overcome the defenders of Troy, some thirty one centuries ago.
In many ways this poem – especially the last line, always reminds me of Magucha. All her life she strove; she sought; and (I hope) she found – but she never yielded. She never gave up. In this she was indomitable.
While never trying to make her out to be something she wasn’t – she was very much a fallible human being - there were aspects of her personality that I really admired and respected.
I loved her just as she was – deeply loved her.