Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Kraken by Alfred Tennyson

Decided to post up another Tennyson poem. It's about this giant octopus that lives in the sea. It's a mythological creature in Norse folklore, and its existence was actually believed in that Carl Linnaeus classified it in his taxonomy studies! (Reminds you of the Loch Ness Monster doesn't it?) It inspired Jules Vernes' Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This poem was published in 1830, when Tennyson was only 21, which shows you how much lyrical promise he had. Typically poets improve with age until they're old and less quick, but this is one of his better ones. It is generally agreed that Tennyson's most lyrical and innovative poems were written when he was young - in his twenties. It is an example of his wanderings into the realms of fantasy, and when Tennyson lives in his mind, it is when he excels.

In Greek Mythology, Perseus rescues Andromeda from a sea monster (usually depicted as a dragon) but in a recent adaptation in a movie I think the monster was a Kraken.

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
Oh, and apparently the Kraken may well have existed, according to fossil reports.  

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