People and Choice in Alfred Lord Tennyson's “Crossing the Bar” and Robert Frost's “the Road Not Taken”

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Gergana Petkova

ENG101j

Comparison Contrast Essay

17.11.2009

People and Choice in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar”

and Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”

People always want to know if they can really make a difference in their lives. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar” and Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” consider this problem thoroughly. They both portray a person at a crucial moment of his life. Frost’s poem describes the tough choice a traveler has to make about which of two presumably identical roads to pick, while Tennyson’s poem focuses on the acceptance of the speaker`s death. The choice of the right path in Frost’s poem depends only on the free will of the main character, whereas the “road” in Tennyson’s work is mapped out beforehand by faith itself. Nevertheless, both poems exhibit the idea that no matter whether we have a choice or not, what is meant to happen is inevitable, and the harsh reality should be accepted with no regret. Structure plays a much more essential role in “Crossing the Bar” than it does in “The Road Not Taken.” The reader is pulled into Frost’s poem by a familiar rhyme scheme – rhyming words at the end of the lines. This pattern makes the work flowing and understandable and, combined with the use of first person point of view, allows the reader to identify with the speaker. While Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar” uses the same point of view, its rhyme scheme unites the first and third stanzas as well as the second and fourth. The first and the third stanzas begin with a symbol of light: “sunset and evening star” and “twilight and evening bell”, and conclude with a wish: “And may there be no moaning of the bar / When I put out to sea,” “And may there be no sadness of farewell / When I embark.” The reader should notice the absence of a period at the end of both of these stanzas. This fact suggests that each of them is intimately linked to the one that follows. Both poems use a...
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