He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed 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, Alfred Lord Tennyson
When I was in high school, I would read that poem over and over again, slowly (it has to be read slowly), dwelling on every syllable, marvelling at the alliteration and Tennyson’s ability to paint such a vivid scene with so few words. “The wrinkled sea….” Amazing.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.