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Tithonus By Alfred Tennyson

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Death takes man into a world from where he cannot return but immortality has brought Tithonus far away from the world of men, too far to retrace his steps .Tithonus, written by Alfred Tennyson is based on Greek mythology, Tithonus fell in love with Eos, goddess of the dawn, and asked her for immortality. Unfortunately for Tithonus he did not ask for eternal youth, only eternal life. He, therefore, grows old but never dies while Eos not only never dies but also never grows old. What makes Tithonus's situation worse is that "the gods themselves cannot recall their gifts." The poem touches upon the themes of isolation and death as well as an escape from the arduous burden of life, themes which Tennyson himself had been haunted by in his life.

The poem begins with the acknowledgement of the natural cycle of life, with death being the final culmination of life as in nature "the woods decay and fall" just as "after many a summer dies the swan." Man too eventually faces the same as he "comes and tills the field and lies beneath." But not Tithonus, as he has been condemned to live a life of immortality without immortal youth as it cruelly consumes him. As time passes, he "withers slowly" and is just "a white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream" as he's lost all the vigor and vitality that he once possessed as a youth.

Tithonus laments that he is now but a "gray shadow" who was once chosen by the goddess of dawn Eos, herself for he was "so glorious in his beauty" and in doing so made him feel like he was "none other than a God." When he asked her, "Give Me immortality", she was more than happy to oblige and granted his wish generously, like a rich philanthropist who has so much money that he gives charity without thinking twice. But time wore on and "beat" him down and "marr'd and wasted" him and left him "maim'd" but did not end his life. He pleads with Eos, "can thy love, thy beauty, make amends?" "Let me go, take back thy gift" he continues wondering why anyone would want "to vary from the kindly race of men/ or pass beyond the goal of ordinance/ where all should pause, as is most meet for all?" as he realizes his mistake. While he simply grows more old, ugly and repulsive, Eos' beauty never seems to diminish as with the break of dawn on each new day, she "growest beautiful" as "[Her] cheek begins to redden thro' the gloom/ [her] sweet eyes brighten slowly close to [his]/ Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team which love [her]......shake the darkness from their loosen'd manes, and beat the twilight flakes of fire" at sunrise and usher the new day.

As Tithonus asks her to recall the boon, Eos fully knowing she cannot

can do nothing but weep silently watching her lover's unhappiness. He questions why she must "scare" him with her tearful look of silent regret; her look makes him fear that an old saying might be true--that "The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts." Tithonus sighs and remembers his youth long ago and their initial meet, when he would watch the arrival of the dawn and feel his whole body come



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