Poetry Month – Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Crossing The Bar”

Crossing the Bar

Crossing the Bar

“Crossing the Bar” is an 1889 poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson that is traditionally the last poem in collections of his work. It is thought that Tennyson wrote it as his own elegy, as the poem has a tone of finality about it. The narrator uses an extended metaphor to compare death to crossing the “sandbar” between the tide or river of life, with its outgoing “flood,” and the ocean that lies beyond death, the “boundless deep,” to which we return.

This poem hung in my beloved maternal grandparents’ home and is inscribed on the headstone of my family’s burial place.

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 though 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 crossed the bar.

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