Line 1: The words “clasps,” “crag,” and “crooked” associate the eagle with age: “craggy,” for instance, is still used to describe a lined, age-weathered face. The hard “c” sound that begins each of these words also establishes a hard, sharp tenor to this poem’s tone that fits in with the idea of the eagle’s similarly hard, sharp life. The repetition of first sounds is called alliteration, and Tennyson uses it in this short “fragment” to convey a sense of the eagle’s situation.
If there is any question in the reader’s mind about why we should care to read about the habits of an eagle in the wild, Tennyson settles it at the end of the line, where he uses the poetic technique of personification in talking about the eagle’s “hands.” When Tennyson makes the association of the eagle’s claws with human hands, he lets us know that the story of the eagle is not just a study of an animal in its natural environment, but that, symbolically, he is telling us about human beings. Because of the implications of the descriptions mentioned above, we can assume that the eagle represents an elderly person.
Line 2: The idea that is presented to the reader in the phrase “close to the sun” could be expressed more directly, but in using these words Tennyson accomplishes two goals. First, by bringing the sun in to describe how high up in the air the eagle is, he uses hyperbole, or exaggeration, to associate the...
(The entire section is 1301 words.)
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