Two Eagles

Aspiring poets like myself searching for our own poetic ‘voice’ are advised to practice by emulating admired poets. This exercise has been found to heighten awareness of personalized delivery, leading to the development of one’s own individual voice. I share this tip with you good reader and the following attempt:

The Eagle
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1851)

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.


The Eagle
by Mike McGuire (2014)

His wingtips sensing here and there
Through abstract tightwires in the air
Foretelling foe; foretasting fare.

Fraught talons taut on brittle branch
Absorbing tremors, haunches flinch
Then savage dive with deadly clench

66 thoughts on “Two Eagles

  1. One of the first poems ever read to me by a teacher when I was about 9, so it falls like a thunderbolt into (and lights up) those dingy recesses. The class was also asked to emulate this. So I wrote about a shark.

    • I note that you were fortunate to study the masters at a young age – this is commendable and explains your interest in the whole gamut of poetic forms. I’d love to read the Shark piece. I think I was in my low-teens when it appeared on my school curriculum and it fought regularly with Ozymandias as to which was my favorite poem 🙂

  2. good choice of poet to emulate and good poem, yourself. I was once told to learn all the forms, practice, then forget them and write poetry. It took me a long time to realize what was meant by that, I don’t think I ever learnt ALL the forms and some made me lose interest; but it was a well spent part of my life and a hugely useful resource to fall back on. I have so many writing projects on the go (largely the fantasy that you kindly looked) but poetry will always be my first love. I have enjoyed what I have read here, Mike and wish you all the best, keep smiling and keep writing, best wishes from Baldy 🙂

    • Your study on the forms of the great poets was an education in itself Baldy and as you say, it will stand by you forever. I still spend more time reading than writing and don’t think I could write if I didn’t read. The fresh material here on WordPress is a goldmine. I like your style – we’ll meet again. Good luck and thanks for your good wishes 😀

  3. I fully agree with you and having a template of excellence you are on the right track. You shall naturally find your voice and the exercise will make it seem seamless. I liked your choice of words. I liked Tennyson’s poetry for the same reason. Best wishes, Mike,

  4. I have never practiced that.. but I like the idea.. to some extent it’s the same as singing.. you need to practice both solo and doing choirs.. I like the collaborative way.. try to write a response in the same tone and sense..

    • Singing is a great comparison Björn, play with it if you have time – as you identify the type of voice other poets use, it becomes easier to identify you own. Thanks for adding to the topic.

  5. This is beyond wonderful, Mike. I read the other day that Ireland is a land of writers who are mostly living elsewhere. And I thought immediately of you. Codicle is also brilliant: poignant and profound, grim but heartbreakingly beautiful. I hesitated before clicking ‘Like’; it’s about death, after all. I have, nonetheless.

    • I blush to be counted with that cohert – a great honour. It pleases me hear you speak of these works so positively and am particularly impressed by your clicking the button on Codicil contra-intuitively. My genuine thanks o you.

  6. Wonderful Mike! 🙂
    I actually like your version better, can I say that? Lol, I just did 😉
    I think many things can give us the inspiration to find our own voice or style. For me it’s mostly music. And Edgar Allan Poe of course, although my styles are very different from his. I say ‘styles’ because I use a lot of different writing styles, maybe I just can’t figure out which one I like best lol! 🙂

    Hugz & Love ❤

    • Using multiple voices is part of your own lovely personal style Patty. I’m just being a bit anal about the whole voice thing at the moment – hopefully just a phase I’m going through 😀 Thanks heaps.

  7. I enjoyed your version too. The second verse with it’s not quite rhymes (don’t know what they’re called) gives it a personlised ‘voice’ that differs entirely from Tennyson’s. Great stuff.

    • Thanks Jane. I think you’re referring to consonance, the poetic device of repeating consonant sounds (its cousin assonance does the same with vowel sounds). I find these very difficult but love when I can pull one off successfully – so pleasing to the ear. It’s also a blast when a reader notices so double thanks to you today.

  8. Mike, I really enjoyed this post, and a great tip. I think you did a wonderful job with the emulation! The comments are most interesting as well. Question for you, is it “absolute” to have just one poetic voice?

    Warm wishes,

    • An individual voice isn’t a prerequisite of poetry Pepperanne. I like the concept because of its elements of consistency and recognition. It’s more of a persona than a voice, where you invent a style of communication to explain yourself – it’s not necessarily the true or typecast ‘you’. Apart from some third party information I will never know what kind of persons Keats, Longfellow or Shelley really were but I’m fairly sure I could pick their works out of a line-up. Voice is an amalgam of word choice and arrangement, attitude, emotion, rhythm, length, punctuation, meter, rhyme and tone and anything else that I’ve forgotten. I have three distinct voices that vary (principally) by subject and I think that this is not unusual. I’m seeking a single voice even though I know it will limit my scope but I’d be happy with that trade-off though others may not. Whatever floats your boat Pepperanne; maybe I’m just being vain enough to hope that a reader would one day say, “that piece sounds like a classic McGuire…” Booyah! 😀

      • Mike, thank you for such a thoughtful reply, I really do wonder about this. I feel a bit foolish asking such a silly question as now you have educated me as to the importance of a single voice, and the parameters in order to reach and maintain that goal. As I have mentioned, I am not a writer by intention, rather by accident, and my voice as I perceive it is quirky. So to have it explained to me means a great deal, thank you. I don’t know if I could be that diligent to be so thoughtful and conscientious while writing, just adding another layer to the challenge, at least for me. Ah, I look forward to being able to say, “that piece sounds like a classic McGuire” and of course, “I knew him when”. Thank you for the explanation.


    • You’re very kind Sonya. Isn’t it interesting that your closing imagery is not very different from Tennyson’s? It’s a fine piece and certainly more original than my blatant replica. Thank you for adding value to this post with your lovely contribution.

    • Thanks Christy but my problem is that I have at least three voices that I can identify on this blog and that’s as bad as having none 😀 I think I know which one to zero in on tho’ – still a work in progress.

    • Funny thing, I did it at school. Looks like everybody trips over it at some stage of their lives 😀 Fine piece tho’. Thanks for adding value J.L.

    • Thanks Joe, I feel an attachment to Tennyson’s eagle since it was on the curriculum for my Leaving Cert at the J’s down in Limerick – ’twas much better than the long ones 😀

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