#AtoZChallenge ‘E’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘The Eagle’ #NPM17 Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you just one poem, because it’s the most perfect poem ever written in the English language and there’s no way any other poem can be placed alongside the The Eagle, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Six lines and thirty-nine words were never so full of powerful language and literary history.

The Eagle

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.

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The Eagle is a perfect poem. It’s a Riddle, a kenning, and it contains the dramatic use of assonance and alliteration, which is so representative of Old English / Anglo-Saxon poetry. It is composed of two, three line rhyming stanzas with eight syllables per line.

The repetition of the plosive ‘d’ and ‘k’ sound gives the flash poem force and unity. Curiously, few of the words in my poem have Latin origin. The acoustic power of Old English strikes through.  The effect is sharp and forceful, the rhythm makes us almost see the eagle, who finally falls at our feet.

Tennyson’s poems taught me the power of words. Tennyson recovered awareness of the strength of Old English, which had been softened by the influence of Latin, (mainly through the imposition of French after the Norman invasion of 1066), and reminded us of the power of the essence of the English language and its roots in Old English, where alliteration (repetition of consonant sounds), and assonance (repetition of vowel sounds), kennings (Old English type of metaphor), imagery, and symbolism were frequently used as literary devices to shock our brains into understanding intangible, ethereal feelings.

 Hear Andrew Motion read some of Tennyson’s poems.

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#3linethursday: #Farewell

This poem was written in response to the Three Line Thursday photo prompt. Thirty words maximum, three lines.

Week-7-Mikey

                                     Photo by Michael

Here’s my take:

Farewell

Day dawns onto my dying eyes. Farewell

Tears pour into the depth of divine despair. Love

Sinks with the last glimmer of the kiss of Death.

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Want to read some of the others or join in? Follow this link

I’ve made a daring and comparatively weak attempt to emulate the sound of Old English in my flash poem. The repetition of the ‘d’ and ‘k’ sound gives the flash poem force and unity. Curiously, few of the words in my poem have Latin origin. The acoustic power of Old Norse strikes through.

Young Tennyson

                 Young Tennyson

800px-Alfred_Tennyson.

        Older Tennyson

You all know how the Victorians inspire me to the point of frenzy. Tennyson’s poems especially drive me almost into a trance. I’m not exaggerating if I say that after Shakespeare, he taught me, still teaches me, all I need to know about the power of words.

Tennyson recovered awareness of the strength of Old English, which had been softened by the influence of Latin, (mainly through the imposition of French after the Norman invasion of 1066), and reminded us of the power of alliteration (repetition of consonant sounds), and assonance (repetition of vowel sounds), kennings (Old English type of metaphor), imagery, and symbolism to shock our brains into understanding intangible, ethereal feelings.

I had always loved Tennyson’s poems, but it was not until I had the privilege of teaching Old English poetry at the University of Córdoba for a time, using mostly Tennyson’s translations into modern English, that I fully understood his masterful use of the English language.

Alfred_Tennyson_Middle_Age

He recovered Medieval tales in poems like the Lady of Shallot, and The Holy Grail. He also translated many Old English Poems into Modern English, leading to a renewed interest in the core of the English Language.

Tennyson reminded us of the power of our roots and the essence of the English Language.

This is one of his most well known short poems, and one of my favourites. You could call it a Flash Poem!

The Eagle

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.

It’s a Riddle, a kenning, and it contains the dramatic use of assonance and alliteration, which is so representative of Old English / Anglo-Saxon poetry. 6 lines and 39 words were never so full of powerful language and literary history. I bow to My Master.

Hear Andrew Motion read some of his poems.

StatueOfTennyson

Statue of Lord Tennyson in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge.