Anaylsis Of Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Eagle

832 words - 3 pages

In the poem, The Eagle: A Fragment, Alfred Lord Tennyson questions the position of man in the universe and demonstrates how his existence is transient and fleeting. The word "fragment" in the title of the poem shows immediately that he believes that man is just a trivial piece of insignificance. Many Victorian poets used nature, or natural events, such as snow, rain, or landscapes to convey their messages. Tennyson uses the same technique by using the eagle to portray man. The eagle is set against the azure sky and mountain to demonstrate the smallness of man against nature.Tennyson's short poem, consists of only two stanzas, is one of pure imagery. In the first description of the eagle it is digging its talons into the side of a mountain. The eagle, the ultimate bird of prey, with strength, size, gracefulness, keen vision and power of flight, is pictured as isolated and alone. The bird, symbolizing man, is known for his power and strength but seems rather small against its surroundings. Although the eagle is alone and small against nature, its majestic stereotype is maintained by the placement of the bird at great height or as the poem states, "Close to the sun." The eagle, at its great height, is a representation of a man at the peak of his life, clinging on desperately and the mountain represents the universe. Similar to the eagle's smallness as compared to the mountain, is man's as compared to the universe. The man is lonely in that he must enter and leave the world alone.The second depiction of the eagle compares it to a thunderbolt falling from the mountain.Just as the eagle is a part or fragment of the mountain, the man is a part of the universe and they both leave when they "fall off." Both are encircled by their "worlds" and must stand or endure. The thunderbolt characterizes death in that both are sudden, effective, and momentary. A thunderbolt is loud and it disappears just as quickly as it appears. Even though a man's life span appears long to him, in the scheme of things it is a relatively small amount of time. The water below the cliff conceptualizes man's eminent demise as the eagle presumably falls in. In addition, the last words of each stanza, "stands" and "falls," are opposite to each other in definition. "Falls" is often used to convey death, while "stands" is used to convey endurance. Thus, falls and the suddenness of the thunderbolt, together convey the death of man.Tennyson believed that the highest purpose of a poet, of any...

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