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To Strive…And Not to Yield: A Message for Our Time

By Pamela Faulkner

Mar 28, 2019


…you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Seeing actress Helen Mirren read the poem, “Ulysses” by Tennyson on

Late night with Steven Colbert reminded me why I loved to teach. To

show children, the craft, the art that it took for Tennyson to write this

great poem. Now I appreciate it even more for what it says. Some thing

that I, at this age, can hold on to, especially in this time.


It has been a long fight since our world erupted in 2016. We have struggled. We have walked carrying protest signs, knocked from door to door trying to alert our neighbors who are deluded or have been asleep, called them, even though it was a disconcerting thing to do, knowing we were disturbing some moment in their lives, that our call might not be welcome. We did it to try to warn them of the danger of apathy, to tell them that we could hear the sound of booted feet marching in the future to destroy our liberty. It took much longer than we thought it would to see even one victory and then to find out that one victory was not enough, that we have to do it all over again and again, that we, and they, can never go back to sleep. It is a hard thing to do, but we must do it.


There are greedy, corrupt, evil people who will crush our freedoms on the way to getting what they want. There are people who are sure that they know all the answers and that the way they live is the right way, that their rules should be our rules. There are yet deluded people, sleeping people, hopeless people who will not help us in the fight. We must enlighten them, awaken them, encourage them until they care enough to go to the polls or the streets to help us save their world. We must, because their world is our world.


“You and I are old” and yet we must do this again. Our way of life depends on it, our freedom depends on it, the world we leave for those who come behind us depends on it. We must keep the world moving forward or it will stop. It will be a miserable, oppressive place to live for a time and then it will be a dead rock in space. We must do this because we know, we see, and we cannot turn our backs on the future or there will be no future. Do not give up. “Some work of noble note may yet be done.”


There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,

'T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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