Crossing The Bar
While reading Tennyson?s ?Crossing the Bar? one should keep in mind the poem?s immense autobiographical significance. The erstwhile poet-laureate composed the poem just three years before he passed away and, though he composed quite a few poems after that, insisted that ?Crossing the Bar? should be included as the last poem in any collection. The poem deals with a universal subject: death, the inescapable and perhaps the only truth of human existence. In the dusk of his life, the poet, poised and controlled braves death and even welcomes it with a sense of adventure for he equates the journey beyond life with a sea voyage that takes us beyond the ?bourne of Time and Place?. In this poem, one should note the brilliant imagery and the effect it achieves with minimum use of words. The words in the opening line of the first and the third stanza: ?Sunset and evening star? and ?Twilight and evening bell? immediately summon a few familiar visions in front of our eyes, word-pictures that connote the end of a busy day and the approaching darkness of the night. Tennyson immediately associates these archetypal images of the finale with images of approaching darkness and an impending sea voyage. The sand Bar that ?moans? when the tide rises is an image for the line separating life and death. However, the poet does not wish to be mourned for during his departure for the other side of the bar. He says that in a figurative manner in the second stanza, where he wishes for a tide that is too full to foam and froth; and more directly in the third stanza: ?And may there be no sadness of farewell/ When I embark?.One should also note that the poem develops an immense philosophical depth beyond Tennyson?s personal attitude to death when the poet says: ?When that which drew from out the boundless deep/ Turns again home?. Tennyson is speaking of ?Him Who is our Home?. One also perceives the same intensity of faith in the line: ? I hope to see my Pilot face to face/ When I have crossed the bar?. The Almighty Lord is the One from whom we come and to whom we return after the end of this earthly sojourn. He is the Pilot of the vessel that takes us beyond the bar separating life and death and therefore we are safe in His Hands. This is the source of Tennyson?s courage in facing the fearsome death. The poem remains a great inspiration for every mortal living a life under the crippling shadow of death.