Study Guide

The Eagle Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

He clasps the crag with crooked hands; (line 1)

The alliteration of words that begin with "cr" or "cl" mimics the sound of hard rocks. The landscape is unforgiving, and from the speaker's perspective, you'd have to have something twisted or "crooked" about you to live there. By calling the eagle's talons "hands," the speaker makes the eagle seem in some way human, although it perches on a cliff that people can't access.

Close to the sun in lonely lands, (line 2)

The sky is only "lonely" from a human perspective. The speaker admires the eagle's separation from the busy, social world below.

Ring'd with the azure world (line 3)

"Azure" stands for the sky and also the sea. We think the sun must be out, because "azure" is a bright blue and not at all hazy. The eagle is at the center of another, empty world. The ring of blue surrounds it like a religious halo.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; (line 4)

The words "wrinkled" and "crawls" seem to personify the ocean, or at least make it seem like a living thing. The speaker tries to see the world from the eagle's perspective, but he still comes up with human comparisons.

He watches from his mountain walls, (line 5)

The eagle probably has his nest on the side of the mountain. He surveys his surroundings like the lions on Pride Rock in The Lion King. Come to think of it, Pride Rock is also a "crag."

And like a thunderbolt he falls. (line 6)

The eagle falls like a burst of energy in the atmosphere. This comparison is appropriate because Tennyson has been setting up a contrast between the sky and the earth in the poem. The final line brings sky and earth together; or, more accurately, the power of the sky comes down to earth.

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