Alfred Lord Tennyson

(6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892 / Lincoln / England)

The 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 fins the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by men and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010
Edited: Tuesday, November 06, 2012

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  • Art Roberts (5/14/2010 12:52:00 AM)

    I'm a fan of Joseph Campbell's, who said that if you want to understand myth, learn to read poetry. I took this advice into my senior English classroom, where I taught this poem the first time in a pathetic, literal fashion. In the second class in which i was reciting the poem, dawn broke on marble head, as i realized that I had missed the point of the poem, which is nothing but a metaphor for the unconscious, just a Joe would have interpreted it. After many apologies, I taught it a second time in the first class. The beauty of the poem is that it can be interpreted from a Western or an Eastern perspective, from using Western psychiatry to reach the depths on one's psyche to using meditation or yoga to do the same. poetry is hard work, but worth the effort. (Report) Reply

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