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

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Though there are no direct metaphors, Tennyson uses a variety of poetic devices in his 1851 poem "The Eagle." Most notable is his use of simile (which is itself a kind of metaphor) and personification. The last line of the poem employs a simile to describe the way the eagle dives to the ocean below:

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

The comparison to a thunderbolt is meant to illustrate the eagle's speed, strength, and inevitability; Tennyson's eagle evokes a thunderbolt's sudden, powerful, and unstoppable nature.

Tennyson also uses personification, most likely to allow the reader to better connect with the eagle, as people empathize with other people more strongly than with birds. Tennyson uses words like "hands" and "stands" to make the eagle seem more like a human being. Tennyson also never uses the word "eagle" in the whole poem—only "he"—making it easier for readers to interpret the eagle as more of a human figure.

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