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The Authority of the Eagle

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The Authority of The Eagle

The poem “The Eagle” by Lord Alfred Tennyson portrays the predatory

power and masculinity of an eagle by using language effectively. The poet uses diction, imagery, and syntax to convey an overall image of a powerful creature that dominates nature. In addition to this vivid portrayal, the poem provides a visional scene for its readers. Using these literary devices, the poet glorifies the eagle and embellishes his power.

In the first line, “he clasps the crag with crooked hands”, Tennyson uses alliteration with use of hard “c” sounds in the words “clasps”, “crag”, “crooked”, and “close.” With his choice of both diction and syntax, Tennyson highlights the words and creates a distinct melody, emphasizing the eagle’s inaccessibility. This causes the reader to pause and think about each word. This technique ensures that the reader will pause and imagine the eagle high up on a mountain side, overlooking the land. He uses the word “crag” not only for alliteration purposes, but also to signify that the eagle is exposed but out of reach. Tennyson describes

the eagles “hands” as “crooked”, to compare the eagle’s claws to hands. This evokes a sense of relation between humans and the eagle in the reader.

In line four, “The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls”, Tennyson’s use of diction creates an undeniable image in the reader’s mind. The sea is “wrinkled” like a dirty dress or a shirt that needs ironing. This makes the eagle seem very far away from the sea. The waves are so small in comparison to the sea that they “crawl” towards the shore. Once again, Tennyson uses personification to paint a clear image from the eagle’s point of view on the rock. The word “crawls” normally relates to a baby crawling, which in this case is a direct comparison to the power of the eagle versus the weakness of the sea. As humans, the first thing we learn how to do is crawl so this word evokes the image of a baby crawling in the context of the sea. This vulnerability creates an imaginal contrast between the weakness of the sea and the power of the eagle.

In line three, “Ring’d with the azure world, he stands”, Tennyson’s structural strategy emphasizes the eagle’s masculine stature as well as his environment. This line reveals that the eagle is surrounded by blue skies that form a ring around him. “Ring’d with the azure world” places the reader into the sky to join the bird while providing intense imagery of the “azure” world. By placing “he stands” after

“Ring’d with the azure world,” Tennyson uses his syntax to build up to the climax: “he stands.” Arranging the two fragments in this order allows the reader to first put themselves in place of the eagle, then realize the great power that comes from his perspective with “he stands.” His

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