Crossing The Bar

Crossing The Bar

By Lord Alfred Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Summary of Crossing The Bar

  • Popularity of “Crossing The Bar”: The poem “Crossing The Bar” by Lord Alfred Tennyson, a Victorian poet, is a melodious poetic piece. It first appeared in his collection Demeter and Other Poems in 1889. This four stanzas poem highlights the poet’s desire to meet death in a metaphorical way. The popularity of the poem lies in its depiction of death as a point of crossing the sandbar that lies in-between the coast and the sea.
  • “Crossing The Bar” As a Representative of Death and Life Hereafter: The poem opens when Lord Alfred Tennyson presents the scene of the sunset and the evening that means he is almost touching the end years of his life and is going to the sea without having to moan of the bar. To him, it is preferable to go by the tide that seems to sleep and that is what he desires in his life. He says that he does not want any mournful wailings over his death when he “embarks” upon the path to go from this world. He means that even though he would be dying and leaving this time and place, he would be meeting Pilot, who is running the affairs of this ship of the world.
  • Major Themes in “Crossing The Bar”: Peaceful death and Christian life in the post-death period are major thematic strands of this poem. The poet is contented that he has passed the prime of his life and that he is entering the twilight. He is also satisfied with his expression of the metaphorical presentation of death as a point between the coast and the sea from where he embarks upon a long journey away from this Time and Place. It means that he wants to leave the world to meet his Creator, God, and that he is pleased with what he has done here.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Crossing The Bar”

literary devices are literary nuts and bolts used to make writings meaningful. The analysis of these devices in the poem “Crossing The Bar” as given below shows this fact.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “Sunset and evening star”, /e/ in “But such a tide as moving seems asleep” and the sound of /a/ in “And after that the dark!.”
  2. Allusion: It is a device that shows the use of references to some events or figures of historical importance. This poem alludes to God when Alfred Tennyson points to Time and Place.
  3. Alliteration: It is a device that means to use words in quick succession having initials consonants such as /th/ sound in “that the” or /k/ in “clear call.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ and /m/ in “But such a tide as moving seems asleep”, /d/ and /d/ in “When that which drew from out the boundless deep” and the sound of /t/ and /l/ in “Twilight and evening bell.”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

  1. Exclamation: The poem shows the use of exclamations in the first and the third stanza as “And after that the dark!” shows the use of exclamation marks.
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. The poem shows the use of imagery such as “And one clear call for me”, “And may there be no moaning of the bar” and “The flood may bear me far.”
  3. Juxtaposition: The poem also shows different ideas put together for juxtaposition such as “For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place.
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poem shows the use of the voyage as compared to death or death compared to a sea voyage.
  5. Personification: The poet has personified the tide as if it has life and emotions of its own.
  6. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem shows the use of the symbols of call, bar, sea, foam, and sounds for the final journey toward death.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Crossing The Bar”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction and Tone: The poem shows the use of poetic diction with a serious tone.
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows an ABAB rhyming pattern in all four stanzas.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There is a total of four stanzas with each having four verses.
  4. Repetition: The poem shows the use of a rhetorical device of repetition that stresses upon the main idea such as “Seven petals for seven tribes” as this entire stanza is repeated.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “Crossing The Bar” are relevant to use when teaching about the departure of a person from the scene.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;