The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson Line by Line Analysis

Alfred Lord Tennyson was a poet in the Victorian era which came after Romanticism. There he elaborated nature contrasting it with the human world. Using a powerful symbol of the eagle, he urges to discuss the power and the harshness of it.

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

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‘He clasps the crag with crooked hands’

Using a personal pronoun personifies the eagle to a person who wields natural power. Clasping crag shows the ownership which he holds tight. His crooked hand may be suggestive of the harshness and the corrupted nature of power. The alliteration and the assonance depicts the harshness of the environment and the eagle itself.

‘Close to the sun in lonely lands,’

Closeness to the sun creates an effect that eagle is a god-like figure. As well as it shows the point of view at the eagle. It is like someone looks at the eagle from far below. The lonely land suggest that he lives in an undisturbed natural surrounding and his nature of living. It is like the powerful has to stay alone.

‘Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.’

His world is shown covered with blue surrounding, the colour suggests nobility. Does that mean eagle is a noble character? Although away from others, lives alone he survives without any issue. His ability to stand alone shows that. 

‘The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;’

‘wrinkled sea’ shows that there is a changing of point of view. Poet takes the reader to the view of the eagle. His standing height and the sharpness of its sight can be seen here. The words ‘wrinkled’ and ‘crawls’ may show the power contrast between the two natural creations.

‘He watches from his mountain walls,’

Word ‘wall’ implies of a home, the cliff is home of the eagle. Using the possessive pronoun shows the possession. That means the accumulation of power. The image created here is like the eagle reigns in its natural fortress.

‘And like a thunderbolt he falls.’

‘thunderbolt’ is a powerful, beautiful natural force. That may suggest the power and swiftness of eagle’s swoop. The use of the word seems contradictory as if it implies the fall or death of every power which is a natural course.
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You may also like to read:

Nature vs Metaphor in the poem The Eagle.
Background Details of Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Romantic Era which evolved Victorian Poetry. 
Victorian Era which nurtured Alfred Lord Tennyson.

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