In Tennysons poem The Eagle, there are many writing elements that are used to create his poem. The Eagle is a great reading for analyzing the elements of imagery, personification, and possibly symbolism. Tennyson, one of the greatest English poets, used an array of subjects as sources of materials for his poetry. Tennysons use of imagery, personification, and symbolism in The Eagle are used to create this wonderful and descriptive poem.
First and foremost, imagery is key to almost all-narrative fiction. Imagery can be defined as the depiction of visual objects or scenes that can be perceived by the 5 senses. In The Eagle, Tennyson uses imagery to reveal the eagles environment. He expresses imagery through physical descriptions, actions, and words of the eagles home. Tennyson uses this expression of imagery in his rich figurative language to give us an everlasting feeling of freedom from the eagles point of view. The eagle lives in his homely environment, in which Tennyson describes as 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 (Tennyson 767). When Tennyson uses Close to the sun in lonely lands, (Tennyson 767) he tells the reader that the eagle lives high on a mountain cliff over his land free from any human inhabitants and Ringed with the azure world he stands (Tennyson 767) which represents the blue-tinted world of a sky that surrounds his nest. Tennyson also uses The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, (Tennyson 767), in which he also describes the sea below the eagles nest as wrinkled because of wavy motion of the deep blue sea and the white-caps of the waves crashing into the rocky edge of the mountain cliff and his eagle is watching this world from his nest. The use of imagery in this poem really seems to send a refreshing feeling to the environment of the wonderful bird, which in turn could make some readers feel that the eagle is free and enjoying peace and tranquility in the world that he owns.
Secondly, personification is of great importance because it helps to create action and a sense of understanding from our thoughts and experiences. According to Websters dictionary, personification is defined as to think of or represent as a person (Merriam-Webster 389). Tennyson uses this element to give useful insight into the actions and talents of the eagle. The author uses He clasps the crag with crooked hands (Tennyson 767) to give personification to the eagle by given the eagle crooked hands to demonstrate how the eagle clutches to the rugged cliff or crag with his mighty talons. Throughout the poem, Tennyson also refers to the eagle with the pronoun of he and him to be able to give the eagle human-like traits. For example, Tennyson uses He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls (Tennyson 767) which gives the eagle the human-like trait of watching his prey and he falls fast just like a thunderbolt to catch his prey. By giving these pronouns to the eagle followed by an action verb gives the personification needed to help the reader understand the eagle to a better degree.
Thirdly, Tennysons use of symbolism could be essential to the poems theme. According to Websters Dictionary, symbolism is defined as the representation of abstract or intangible things by means of symbols (Merriam-Webster 524). Often, the eagle is seen as a symbol of freedom, nobility, salvation, redemption, strength, farsightedness and courage. According to S.K. Robisch, Birds have long been known as the representatives of the flight of the soul and as mediators between heaven and earth. They have been characterized according to the traits that seem most dominant to the writers who watch them. The real characteristics of the bird are limited to the ones most useful for the poem, and so what readers finally envision in the writing is sometimes less the actual bird than a character that serves the writers purpose (Robisch, Internet). In the case of Tennysons poem, the eagle is symbolic of freedom. Tennyson hints towards freedom in his line He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, (Tennyson 767) when the eagle is nested high upon the mountain cliff in lonely lands which refers to the inhabited mountain lands where he is free from any other predators such as humans and he is king to his realm and that he is free to roam that realm with the blue sky up above, the deep-blue sea below and the baron forest below and the lonely mountain cliff to where his nest is located. He is at peace with his world instead of being caged and placed into turmoil. This portrays to the reader as well. People love freedom as well and they generally do not like the idea of being held back, like in a cage, or being restricted when the sky is the limit.
To conclude, Tennyson uses many literary devices and elements to create his poem. The key elements that Tennyson used in his poem include imagery, personification, and symbolism. These three key elements drive the reader into a sense of understanding, imagination and peace. These elements are significant in creating a masterpiece that can be visualized entirely by the reader and leaves the reader knowledgeable about the beauty and purity that nature can be.
1. Tennyson, Lord Alfred. The Eagle. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. Gioia and Kennedy. 10th edition. New York, NY: Pearson Longman, 2007. 767.
2. Robisch, S. K. Poetry for Students, Gale Group, 2001
3. Webster, Noah. Websters New Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc. New York, NY: Popular Publishing Company, LLC, 2001. Pgs 389 and 524.