Whether the profound ancient Greek philosophical thinking, or the magnificent Homer Epic, or the immortal Greek mythology, all of those can be thought of as the sources of the artistic creations fully demonstrating their splendid charm as well as human wisdom. The Troy’s stories are no exceptions. Paris adjudged the golden apples to goddess of love, and in return, he would gain the world’s fairest woman--Helen of Troy. When he kidnapped Helen, also the wife of king of Sparta, he was no doubt to trigger the anger of the King and the epic Trojan War that lasted more than ten years began. Based upon this allusion, Danez Smith and Alfred Tennyson show their different understandings about historical stories and endow them different means of artistic expressions. Through making a comparative analysis of the Troy allusion between Danez Smith’s “Not an elegy for Mike Brown” and Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses”, this essay mainly reveals the poets’ creative ways of thinking and further arouses people’s much thinking about the poetic allusion.
It is obvious that both of the two poets choose the certain parts of the Troy’s stories in history and show their unique sights in those historical events. At first,, Alfred Tennyson puts an emphasis upon shaping the image of hero--Ulysses after the war, closely links his own life experiences with the historical figures and fully expresses the meaning of life. Ulysses is the hero in the Trojan War whose the Trojan Horse not only gained the victory of the war but also saved Helen. In this poem, through the formation of the dramatic monologue and the first person, Tennyson fully expresses his emotional appeal with strong personal and emotional color. After returning the island, Ulysses was trapped into the plights and he had to face the boring household affairs and trivial, which made him suffer the bondless pain and torment. “It little profits that an idle king...Unequal laws unto a savage race; That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me” (Tennyson, line 1-5). However, instead of being content with the status quo, Ulysses would like to get rid of the limitation and put to the sea again rather than stay at home and have a easy time. “Life to the lees; all times I have enjoy’d; Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those” (line 7-8). For the old Ulysses, the meaning of life does not merely mean to breathe the fresh air, but it should be equipped with aggressiveness, ambitions, persistence as well as strong power with which they can conquer their fear for unknown and consistently pursue advanced knowledge to reach the road on the other side. “To follow knowledge like a sinking star; beyond the utmost bound of human thought” (line 31-32). Thus, it is much easier to see the poet’s high spirit and hero complex and in this poem. Ulysses is full of great passion and vigor to create his own life.
All in all, people are now living in an age that bereft of heroes. Therefore, both two poets have always been racked their brains to seek for the images of the heroes in a way of self-mourning and attempted to use the historical allusion to stimulate the people’s consistent pursuit of their dream of hero that is inherited from their forefathers. If Alfred Tennyson enables to revoke people’s deep minds upon the household name of the hero-- Ulysses, Danez Smith makes a clever use of contrast with the different situations caused by the kidnap between the white and the blacks. Both of them make a poetic allusion and deserves readers to make more reflections.