J.K Rowling, a famous author, once said, “Death is but the next great adventure.” “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennyson vividly illustrates the tranquility of passing into the afterlife. Death is not a sad farewell, but rather a placid, vital journey into the beyond.
Powerful symbolism captures the speaker’s serene attitude towards cession. For example, as the sun sets, the speaker proceeds to exclaim that it is “one clear call for me!”(2). Just like how the sun sinks at the end of the day, the sunset represents the speaker’s transition into death. The excitement the speaker proclaims reveals anticipation; he/she awaits death with expectancy, and not with a single trace of sadness or dread. In addition, the speaker hopes for there to be “no moaning of the bar,” (3) when he/she leaves.
The “bar” refers to a “sandbar,” which is barrier between land- life, and ocean- death. The “moaning” represents the cries of sadness coming those on the shore as the speaker departs. The speaker wishes for his/her loved ones not to be mournful. Explicit diction adds profundity to the speaker’s hopes when he/she embarks. For instance, when it is time to leave, the speaker reflects, “From tho’ out our bourne of Time and Place/the flood may bear me far” (13-14). “Bourne” (dialect of bourn) represents birth, which happens every nine months just like how the water flows seasonally.
The speaker was born from a certain “Time” and “Place” that he/she has in mind, representing memories with loved ones that is treasured, but not dwelled on. The flood symbolizes the current of demise, destruction of something old so that new can be brought into the world. This “flood,” can possibly be an allusion to “Noah’s Ark,” a well known tale from the Bible. The speaker’s death is necessary for the flow of life to continue onwards. In addition, the speaker hopes to see his/her “Pilot face to face,” when he/she “crost the bar” (15-16).
The capitalization of “Pilot” reveals that the speaker has a specific person or guide he/she hopes to meet in the afterlife. Because of the particular dialect of “crost” and “bourne,” it can relate to Christianity, where he/she is guided by the “Pilot” who is God. The speaker is calm and accepting towards death, knowing that it is essential for life. Death, a crucial part of life, should be taken with a hint of sadness, and not mourn. It continues the cycle of destruction, and then, essentially life. Not lamenting over the passing of a loved one leads to better overall mental and physical health.