Analysis Of Alfred Lord Tennyson's Crossing The Bar

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Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “Crossing the Bar” in 1889 when he was eighty years old. At the time, Tennyson had a severe illness that made him contemplate the idea of death. This poem is an elegy that was written three years before Tennyson’s death and it describes his attitude toward the concept of death. Tennyson requested that this poem be placed as the final poem in all collections of his work. Alfred Tennyson uses metaphors and imagery to develop the theme of accepting death and embracing the afterlife, instead of fearing the unknown. Tennyson uses an extended metaphor to compare a sailor who is set out to sea to the slow process of dying. The extended metaphor is present in the poem as Tennyson compares a sailor who is crossing a literal…show more content…
The different descriptions of the night sky provides a step closer to the speaker’s final destination. Tennyson begins the poem by describing the “sunset and evening star”(Line 1). This is his first use of night imagery that symbolizes the first step towards approaching death. The night is winding down slowly when the sun sets, just as the speaker’s life is slowly starting to come to an end. In the third stanza, Tennyson uses the word “twilight”(Line 9) to provide another description of the sky as the speaker’s impending death. Twilight occurs when the sun is below the horizon, but not quite at nightfall. The speaker is growing older, but has not fully approached death yet. The speaker is definitely past the halfway mark towards his death and it will be occurring soon. In line 10, Tennyson quickly shifts the mood by stating, “and after that the dark!” At this point, death is here and the speaker is fully aware of it. The dark night sky resembles the end of the speaker’s life. In the third stanza, there is a shift in the poem at the start of line 10. At this point, the speaker has accepted the fact that he will die and begins to imagine the afterlife. The idea of the sailor crossing the sandbar is clear that it is a metaphor for death. In the final stanza, Tennyson wraps up the metaphor of sailing as finally reaching death. The reader can assume that the speaker is being completely figurative at this point. The speaker is no longer concerned about an actual sandbar. He is openly talking about crossing the barrier of life into death in the following
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