How would you paraphrase "The Eagle" by Lord Tennyson?

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The goal of paraphrase is to put the words of a text into one's own words, and, in paraphrasing poetry, we also try to make literal whatever is originally figurative; this means, then, that it is possible to have many different paraphrases depending on one's interpretation of the figurative elements in the poem. One might paraphrase the poem quite literally as such:

An eagle holds onto the mountain top with his bent talons;
High up, near the sun, with no other creatures near him,
Surrounded by the blue sky, he perches.

The ocean moves far beneath him, down below,
the eagle surveying everything around him,
and when he dives, he is as merciless and fast as lightning.

Then again, I have even heard the interpretation that the titular eagle is actually Zeus, of Greek mythology (especially because of the references to eagles, his bird, and thunderbolts, his weapon of choice as the god of the sky), but I think we might interpret the eagle as symbolic of any person in a position of extreme power. If we interpret the eagle as a symbol of supreme power, the paraphrase might look very different:

The dictator holds onto power with his corrupt hands;
so powerful that no one else can share his experience,
he seems surrounded only by the sky, lonely in his power.

His subjects are so far below him that their movements look like water;
He surveils them from his fortress's walls,
And when he eventually loses power, it is swift and violent.

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A complete paraphrase of the this short poem could be the following:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

There is a lone eagle on the top of a rock outcropping who is grabbing that rock with strong claws while he surveys the land. Because I am looking up at the eagle it appears very close to the sun overhead and the bright blue sky is glowing around him.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls:

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.

From the eagles perspective up on the mountain wall it appears that the water down below is wrinkly as the waves wash to shore.  Once he decides to move he takes off with the swiftness and power of a thunderbolt.

The poem does a masterful job of capturing the majestic beauty of an eagle in this setting. Tennyson uses a short iambic tetrameter line with a clear, strong rhyme scheme to unify each image, and he uses alliteration, assonance, consonance, imagery, and figurative language to create this vision.

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