Crossing the Bar 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. Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar" is one of the poet's later works. This significant, reflective, and well-constructed poem has been on the receiving end of much praise, and is generally held in high regard. "Crossing the Bar" views the transience of life with an inner tranquillity. The completeness of the poem's structure provides the means for an effective presentation of Tennyson's thoughts. One critic has noted that "Crossing the Bar" is "Tennyson's most famous description of the soul's return to its beginnings" (Pitt 242). To capture the meaning of this statement, it is important, first, to get an understanding of the background of the poem. "Crossing the Bar" first appeared in Demeter and Other Poems (1889). It had been written two months earlier in October 1889 when Tennyson was crossing the Solent, travelling from Aldworth to Farringford. Prior to this, at the age of 81, Tennyson had been seriously ill for an extended period of time. In April or May of 1889, after his recovery from his illness, his nurse suggested he write a hymn (Ricks 253). Apparently, he had the "Moaning of the Bar" in his mind before reaching Farringford, and he "began and finished [writing] it in twenty minutes" (Lang and Shannon 414). After hearing the poem the evening after it was written, his son proclaimed "Crossing the Bar" to be the crown of his father's life's work. Lord Tennyson replied, "It came in a moment" (Tennyson 391). On...
Cited: Abrams, M.H, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 6th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1996. Buckley, Jerome Hamilton. Tennyson: The Growth of a Poet. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969. Hair, Donald S. Tennyson 's Language. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991. Hill, Robert W., Jr., ed. Tennyson 's Poetry. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1971. Lang, Cecil Y, and Edgar F. Shannon Jr., eds. The Letters of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Vol. 3. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990. Pitt, Valerie. Tennyson Laureate. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962. Ricks, Christopher, ed. The Poems of Tennyson. Vol. 3. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. Tennyson, Hallam Lord, ed. The Works of Tennyson. Vol.7. Westport: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1908.
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