The Kraken by Tennyson

 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
 Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
 Winnow with giant arms 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 man and angels to be seen,
 In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

The kraken is a supposed sea monster of vast size, said to have been seen off the coast of Norway and Iceland. An early description was by Erik Pontopiddan, bishop of Bergen, in his Natural History of Norway (1755), but the name can be traced to the end of the 16th century. The name was disseminated in English by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's popular poem "The Kraken," (essentially an irregular sonnet), published in 1830. Tennyson's description apparently influenced Jules Verne's imagined lair of the giant squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1870.

Missing image

In the 1981 film Clash of the Titans, "kraken" is given as the name of the creature that is sent to kill Andromeda. In fact this monster, slain by Perseus, was typically referred to as a "ketos" by the ancient Greeks, a word that is best translated by the English phrase "sea monster". The ketos has no historic connection with the kraken.

Since the late 18th century, the kraken has been depicted in a number of ways, primarily as a large octopus-like creature. However this was not its earliest form which was more crab-like. The term is not used in the Norse sagas, and the kraken was always distinct from more serpentine sea monsters.

Pontoppidan's kraken might have been based on sailors' observations of the giant squid, or the recently discovered colossal squid.

See also

de:Kraken (Mythologie) fr:Kraken it:Kraken nl:Kraak no:Kraken pl:Kraken


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