Explain the line “He works his work I mine” from Ulysses by Tennyson

This is said by Ulysses, the hero of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem Ulysses . Ulysses makes this observation in order to show the difference between his ideal of life and his son, Telemachus’s.

Ulysses has decided to leave his sceptre to his son Telemachus. He has nothing but an aversion to the dull duties of an island king. He cannot rest and sit still. He is ever drawn to ceaseless action and motion by the call of the unknown. But his son Telemachus is a different man. He is a practical worldly-minded man, who knows well and executes faithfully all his public and private duties. He has not his father’s idealistic approach to life. But he is a perfect administrator and family head. Whereas Ulysses moves with the insatiable thirst for an unattainable ideal of life, Telemachus fits himself excellently in the discharge of all the obligations of a material world.

It has been nicely said, “The poem (Ulysses) contrasts two different ideals of life.” This contrast is suggestively brought out in this single sentence. Of course, Ulysses and Telemachus indicate two distinct ideals, but each one is indispensable to the world.

Also read; “I will drink/ life to the lees” Explain the lines from Ulysses by Tennyson

Also read; Ulysses and his Ideal of Life in Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses”