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Poetry Analysis Notes


The Eagle
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
interpreted by Julia DiVito

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.

Poet: Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born on August 6th, 1809, in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England. His father taught him until he was 18 years old, and then he attended Cambridge University for four years. He became a popular poet after publishing poems like "Timbuctoo" and a book called "Poems." In 1850, he became poet laureate under the rule of Queen Victoria. He died in 1892 at the age of 83. Some of his major works include "In Memoriam," "Poems by Two Brothers," and "Ulysses."

Vocabulary: Crag - a steep rugged rock or cliff
Azure - of a deep somewhat purplish blue color

Type of poem:
Narrative, because it is telling the story of the eagle

Speaker: Someone observing an eagle

Someone listening to the description of the eagle; bird watchers

Tone: Admiration and amazement of the eagle's actions and superiority

An eagle is sitting on a cliff, above the rest of the world, and is superior to everything below him

Structure of poem: Traditional verse
- Stanza length (tercet)
- End rhyme pattern (AAA BBB)
- Meter (Tetrameter)

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

"He clasps the crag with crooked hands;" Alliteration
"The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;"
"And like a thunderbolt he falls."

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: Tennyson had just recently been appointed poet laureate of England when he wrote this poem, in 1851, and could have been feeling superior to his fellow poets. He was a very popular poet, and his fame could have made him feel like the eagle on the top of the cliff, just watching everyone else below him.

Most memorable quote from the poem:
"And like a thunderbolt he falls."

© Smelli Notes 2001