I am a part of all that I have met;From the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
“Ulysses” is a dramatic monologue, that has its namesake waxing poetic about his travels that have taken him far away from his kingdom for years and years. Though he’s just returned, he’s already itching to get back out there to experience more adventure.
When this poem was assigned in my high school Senior Lit class many moons ago, the words above set off fireworks inside of me. Though this particular line was really no different in brilliance than any of the others in this work, its impact was hard to miss.
At seventeen years old, my whole being “knew” that this line was somehow significant. All of my spidey-senses went off, in a good way. It was a personal, instantaneous connection that has stayed with me, and I am still uncovering the depths of its meaning to this day.
My initial takeaway was that everything I did, every place I went and every person I encountered, became part of me. Ten years later a friend added a new twist in that the opposite was also true – that my energy stayed with the things that I had done, in the places that I had been and with the people I had met along the way. I was part of all of that, too!
And just recently, after reading this verse again in preparation for my post, another awareness offered itself up to me. Where my focus has always been on “I am a part of all that I have met,” my attention suddenly shifted to the relevance of untravell’d worlds.
To me this phrase relates to my inner life and to all of the possibilities and potentials that come alive (like my books) when I pass through its arch. The more exploring I can do in there, the more I can understand about myself, which I can then share with the outer world as I move through it. It’s a win-win, and gleaming, to boot!