"The Eagle" by Tennyson, Lord Alfred - Explication

Essay by kalofelUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, September 2004

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My professor didn't agree with my explication, but he did comment that it was "well written, imaginitive, and nicely argued." The possibility was well explained. What lowered my score were spelling and grammatical errors, so please double check your work.


When first reading this poem one could easily assume that this poem is about an eagle and nothing else (Tennyson). However, after further analysis, one finds that there is more to this than just the eagle and it's natural behavior. The eagle is actually a metaphor for someone's rise and fall.

The first and second words of the first line provide a visual that further supports that the eagle is a symbolism for something other than itself. "He clasps the crag with crooked hands" (1). The word "he" is usually reserved to describe "a male human or animal" ("he"). The poem could have easily started, "It clasps the crag .

. . " or "She clasps the crag . . ." but instead it starts with the word "he". This suggests that the object for which the eagle is a symbolism to is a masculine individual. The word "talon" describes "the claw of an animal and especially of a bird of prey" ("talon"). In this instance though, the word "hands" is used. This again supports that the poem is about more than an eagle. Now, with the association of masculinity and hands, one can assume that the metaphor of the eagle is attached to a male human.

The first line of the poem does more than just associate a male human. The other words in the first line: "clasps", "crag", and "crooked," all associate the eagle with an elderly individual. When visualizing crooked hands clasping onto something, the body that goes with the rest of the...