Marking the 200th anniversary of the birth Alfred, Lord Tennyson's birth, poet Sean O'brien explores his great poem, Ulysses, from the singular story of its tragic origins to its many meanings for readers today.

He hears from Homer scholar Oliver Taplin and Dante scholar Martin McLaughlin about Tennyson's sources for the poem and its surprisingly ambiguous hero.

Sean learns from Victorian experts Seamus Perry, Robert Douglas Fairhurst and Linda Hughes about the tragedy in Tennyson's young life that led him to write this poem about an old man when he himself was just 24.

It is a poem about bereavement and death but, as poet Vicki Feaver explains, it is also about the personal struggle in each of us between comfort and adventure, between the familiar and the unknown, between accepting life as it is and striving ever onward.

Featuring a powerful new reading of Ulysses by Anton Lesser.


Genre

  • Factual
  • Arts
  • Culture & the Media

Broadcast Details

  • First broadcast 20090802 (Radio 4)
  • First repeated 20090808 (Radio 4)

Advertising