What are the metaphors in Tennyson's poem "The Eagle"?

Expert Answers
mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alfred, Lord Tennyson is considered one the finest English Romantic poets. As with William Wordsworth, his contemporary and predecessor as Poet Laureate of England, Tennyson wrote many poems glorifying nature. His poem, "The Eagle" is about the majestic bird perching high on a mountain cliff in the first stanza and then diving powerfully toward the sea to hunt for prey in the second stanza. The eagle is admired as beautiful and mighty.

Technically speaking there are no metaphors in the poem, but there are comparisons using personification and simile. Personification is when a non-human object or an animal is given human qualities. In the first stanza the eagle is personified as Tennyson says, "He clasps the crag with crooked hands." and "Ring'd with the azure world he stands." Of course, he doesn't have hands, he has talons, and he doesn't stand, he perches.

In the second stanza, Tennyson uses a simile, much like a metaphor except it uses the word like or as in the comparison. Tennyson compares the eagle to a thunderbolt as he swoops down from the cliff. The association is meant to show the swiftness and awe-inspiring quality of the bird.