The Eagle (a Fragment)
Alfred Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
I learned this poem in second or third grade, and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s short, simple and immediate. I love the verb pattern. The eagle “clasps,” “stands,” “watches,” and “falls.” The only other verb in the whole poem refers to the sea.
I love the way this poem gives us a static image of the eagle. He could be a statue. Until we get to the very the last word, the only motion in the whole poem is the crawling of the sea. I find that to be an apt description and it’s especially good since it’s viewed from a great height.
I like that the eagle falls. If you’ve ever seen a bird of prey diving for its lunch, that’s exactly what it looks like, right up to the moment the wings spread and the raptor ascends with its victim. I suspect this eagle is fishing.
text via Public Domain Poetry