I have an old copy of the poem "The Eagle." Does anyone know when the change was made from "hooked hands" to "crooked hands"?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question. I did not know that there was an alternative version of this poem. The change was probably made for alliteration's sake--to continue the hard "c" sound in the first line.

I did some searching and discovered that the "hooked hands" version appears in "The Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations," compiled by J. K. Hoyt, in 1896. It is also in "A New Library of Poetry and Song," edited by W. C. Bryan in 1876. It seems that "hooked" was the word Tennyson used in early editions of the poem, but changed it to "crooked" sometime after 1900. I've been unable to find the first use of the word "crooked" in print or any discussion of why Tennyson made the change. As I noted earlier, though, he probably did it for alliteration.

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torselli | Student

I, too, noticed the change.  My daughter and I are Tennyson fans.  I am holding in my hands right now the 1873 version which shows 2 changes that were made.  This version shows hooked hands (which that would be alliteration in itself with the two h sounds...not needing to change to the c sound).  The second change is in the second stanza where this version shows "Ring'd" as opposed to its current listing as ringed.  I am still trying to figure this one out.  Did Tennyson himself actually change it, or did some editor somewhere down the line change it after his death and it was never caught?  Just something to think about.  I intend to pursue it.

The book I am getting this from is listed below.  You can find the poem on page 80.)