Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem; ‘Crossing The Bar’ will truly provoke one’s mind to contemplate life, death, and the finality of leaving this world. Alfred composed this poem on one of his numerous voyages at sea, at the old age of 80. Shortly before his death, Alfred asked for the poem to be the last poem in all of his works. Presumably aware of an approaching death, ‘Crossing The Bar’ conducts itself with an overlying theme of death and departure. The ‘bar’ that is to be crossed is but a sandbar in the sea that one must cross before departing on a journey, in Alfred’s case symbolizing the barrier between life and death. The poem begins with the setting of the sun and the ending of a day, again a metaphor for death and its constant presence just as the sun sets and night is inevitable. This metaphor of the ending of a day is once again mentioned in the first two lines in the third stanza, then now showing the coming of twilight, darkness and void which is accompanied by the coming of night. Mentions of calm and quiet accompanied by farewells and the beginnings of a journey exhibit Alfreds acceptance of his death and happiness in his achievements during his final days. Displaying knowledge for his imminent death, Alfred utilizes lines such as ‘when I put out to sea,'(4) and ‘when I have crost the bar'(16). Yet he uses uncertain language in the lines ‘and may there be no moaning of the bar,'(3) and ‘and may there be no sadness of farewell,'(11) which shows the unpredictability of death and those close to the deceased. The ‘Pilot’ mentioned in the final stanza could be representation of God who which he hopes to meet in the afterlife or possibly Death himself. The lines in the poem consist of either 4, 6 or 10 syllables arranged in no particular order giving the poem an even yet inconsistent measure like the ebb and flow of waves upon the seas. ‘Crossing The Bar’ is a sobering piece which can fill one’s mind with sorrowful thoughts of one’s own death, yet still giving faith in happiness and serenity at the end of days.

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