Crossing the Bar

Crossing the Bar

 by Alfred, Lord 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”: Alfred Lord Tennyson, a great English poet, wrote ‘Crossing the Bar’. It is a popular poem due to its theme of overreaching death. It was first published in 1889 in the collection, Demeter and Other Poems. The poem deals with the speaker’s concern about his approaching, inevitable death. It also highlights his accepting and calm attitude about the end of his life. However, its popularity lies in its everlasting metaphoric description of natural objects and their connection with the speaker’s life.
  • Crossing the Bar” As a Representative of Death: As this poem is about death, the poet says that he hears someone calling him from the sea. The call indicates that the evening of his life has approached, and soon he is going to start a new journey. He compares his life to tide to express his feelings. The last stanza of the poem marks the serenity and calmness. The poet says that after death he will no longer be caught in the clutches of time and place. The afterlife journey will take him so far from the limitations of life. Also, he hopes to see his pilot or the one who gave him life and now taking him back to his original destination. What stays in the minds of the readers is the stark comparison of life and death.
  • Major Themes in “Crossing the Bar”: Death and acceptance are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, we find many examples which indicate that the poet is talking about the approaching dawn of his life. Although the poem is not morbid or sad, yet it describes the poet’s meditation over his death. He suggests that rather than fearing definite death, one should accept that one day everyone is going to cross over from life to death.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Crossing the Bar”

Literary devices are tools that enable the writers to present their ideas, emotions, and feelings, using persuasive language. Lord Tennyson has also employed some literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “And may there be no moaning of the bar” and the sounds of /i/ and /a/ in “I hope to see my Pilot face to face.”
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Sunset and evening star”; “But such a tide as moving seems asleep” and “I hope to see my Pilot face to face.”
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities and give meanings different from their literal meanings. “Evening” symbolizes death and the end of life and “twilight” is the symbol of last moments of life or old age.
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over the next line. For example,

“I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.”

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /c/ in “And one clear call for me”.
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. “Crossing the bar” is a metaphor of death.
  3. Personification: Personification is to give human characteristics to inanimate objects. For example, in the third line, ‘And may there be no moaning of the bar’ the poet personifies “sandbar”; in the fifth line ‘But such a tide as moving seems asleep’ he personifies the tide as if it can sleep like humans.

Analysis of Poetic Devices 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. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem each comprises four lines.
  2. Quatrain: Quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here each stanza is quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues throughout the poem.
  4. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “me/sea”; “star/bar” and “foam/home.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used to describe the stunning beauty of nature.

“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.”