Crossing The Bar Essay, Research Paper
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “Crossing the Bar” in 1889, just years before he died. This poem describes his uncomplaining attitude toward death. Even though he wrote other poems after this, he requested that “Crossing the Bar” appear as the last poem in all collections of his work.
This poem consists of four quatrain stanzas with rhyme pattern ABAB. The first and third lines of each stanza are always a couple of beats longer than the second and fourth lines, although the line lengths vary in each stanza.
The poem starts out at the end of the day with the setting sun and the stars beginning to come out. Tennyson then hears a call for him. It is God calling him to come home. When [he] put(s) out to sea he hopes that the waves will not make the mournful sound that occurs when they crash against a sand bar. He wants to pass from this life to the next in a quiet, peaceful way without fear. Psalm 23:4 says, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me
In the second quatrain, he wants the tide to be so full that it will not create sound [or] foam, when he returns to where he came from. He is using the boundless deep sea to symbolize eternity. Meaning that it has no end. Where Tennyson is going, he will be there forever. When the tide is full (high tide), a ship can pass over the sand bar and continue on with its voyage, just as there is a scheduled time for each of us to leave this world.
Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark! The end of the day symbolizes the end of his life. The dark is a metaphor for eternity. Complete darkness has no beginning or end. It has infinite measurements. The dark could also stand for the instant that life is taken from his body. He then wishes for no one to mourn his journey into eternity. For it is his time to go, just like everyone else has a time.
When he embarks on his journey into eternity, he will be taken far away from that time and place. Once he arrives, he wants to see God face to face. He must have been a Christian since he referred to God as his pilot. This helps to calm the seriousness of his death by saying that God, who has guided him on his journey through life, will also guide him on the journey through death. Tennyson uses a sand bar as a metaphor to describe the barrier between life and death. You can only cross a sand bar when the time is right. The image of crossing is one of Christian connotations. It is referring to crossing over into the next world.
Even tough this poem was written about his death, he wants there to be no sadness of farewell. He wishes his readers to have the same attitude towards death as he does. He understands that it is a part of life. He perceives death as just another part of the journey. Tennyson does not see crossing the bar as the end, but as hope that he will get the chance to see his pilot face to face.