The Eagle

Discussion questions and related resources for the poem "The Eagle" by 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.

Questions for Discussion and Writing

1. Describe the form of the poem (e.g. structure, meter, rhyme scheme, number and length of stanzas). How do the author’s structural choices contribute to the effect of the poem, especially when it is read aloud?

2. What sound devices occur in the poem, and what is their effect?

3. What is the dominant rhetorical device used throughout the poem to describe the eagle? What effect does the use of this device have—how does it help us understand the speaker’s attitude toward and conception of the eagle? Cite specific examples of its usage.

4. What is the “azure world”? (“Azure” is a fancy word for “blue.”) Why do you think the speaker describes the eagle as being “close to the sun” and “ring’d with the azure world”—what feeling toward the eagle do these descriptions evoke?

5. What rhetorical device is used in line 4? Discuss its meaning and its effect(s).

6. What rhetorical device is used in line 6? Discuss its meaning and its effect(s).

Related Resources

“The Eagle”: Poem and Discussion Questions (PDF)

An Introduction to Poetry: Five Poems

The Poetry Foundation: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Biography, selected poems, related content)

Alfred Tennyson: The Major Works
Amazon | Parnassus | Powell’s

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Questions © 2010 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.