Discussion Topic

The effectiveness of expressions in "The Eagle"


The effectiveness of expressions in "The Eagle" lies in their vivid imagery and concise language. Tennyson uses powerful metaphors and precise diction to capture the majesty and isolation of the eagle, creating a striking visual and emotional impact in just a few lines.

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What makes the expressions in "The Eagle" like "crooked hands," "Close to the sun," "Ringed with the azure world," "wrinkled," and "crawls" particularly effective?

The first way in which these words work is by alliteration. The sequence ``clasps – crag - crooked – Close – crawls` repeats a harsh initial consonant, adding dramatic intensity to the poem and linking together a series of terms suggesting the harsh predatory nature of the bird.

`Close to the sun` suggests majesty in two ways. First, in the hierarchy of being, the sun is the most important object ion the sky, just as the eagle is the king of the birds and the monarch is the most important type of human. Second, Zeus hurls thunderbolts from the sky.

`Ringed in the azure world` and a `wrinkled sea` `crawling` suggest the distance between the eagle and the sea below him, with the waves shrunk to wrinkles and their movement to a crawl.

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What makes the expressions "ringed with the azure world," "wrinkled," "crawls," and "like a thunderbolt" effective in "The Eagle"?

These are all effective in creating images in the poem and in establishing physical point of view.

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.

In the first stanza, the eagle is seen from an external point of view as he appears very high on the side of the mountain, surrounded by the open blue sky, near the sun and surrounded by natural wilderness. The image is one of majesty.

In the first two lines of the second stanza, the physical point of view shifts as the world below is seen from the eagle's point of view. His perch is so high above the earth that the ocean below him appears "wrinkled" as the waves move across it, and the force of the ocean is so diminished by distance that it seems only to "crawl." In the poem's concluding line, the physical point of view shifts once again as the viewer watches the eagle suddenly dive from his perch. The simile, "like a thunderbolt," has connotations of power and speed.

Through the imagery of the poem, Tennyson captures and conveys the magnificence of the solitary eagle, seemingly alone and free in the natural world.

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