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crossing the bar
Posted by: christina (---.anhmca.adelphia.net)
Date: October 28, 2004 09:47PM

i have questions on the last stanza of this poem. the poem is

sunset and evening star,
and one clear call for me
and my there by no moaning of the bar
when i put out to sea
but such a tide as mocing 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 or farewell
when i embark
for tho' 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 crost the bar

my questions are on the last 4 lines.. does Time and Place and Pilot signify anything?

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: christina (---.anhmca.adelphia.net)
Date: October 28, 2004 09:55PM

if someone helped me it would be greatly appreciated! thank you thank you!

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: J.H.SUMMERS (---.chartertn.net)
Date: October 28, 2004 10:13PM


This is a poem about death. "time and place" refers to his goal or destination after death and the "Pilot" he hopes to see "face to face" is Jesus Christ.


Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: christina (---.anhmca.adelphia.net)
Date: October 28, 2004 10:38PM

thank you for your help!

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: October 29, 2004 07:55PM

Surely, 'bourne of Time and Place' refers here, not to a destination, but to the domain of this world which he will leave by dying.

The metaphoric 'bar' he has to cross is a bank of sand or silt such as may be found across the mouth of some small harbour or river, obstructing seaward navigation. You may need high tide and the skills of a pilot to get over it and into deep water.

The 'moaning of the bar' referred to in line 3 is, I believe, the sound of the sea breaking on such a barrier, when the water is too shallow to cross safely. The word 'moaning' also has overtones of sadness, which fit the theme. The persona is resolved to die, when his time comes, not with any sad regret or grieving goodbyes, but buoyed by the hope of meeting his Saviour.


Post Edited (10-30-04 08:08)

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-03rh15rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: October 29, 2004 08:34PM

It is interesting (to me) to compare the beginning of this one with one by Browning.

Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
And the sun looked over the mountain's rim:
And straight was a path of gold for him,
And the need of a world of men for me.

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: October 30, 2004 12:16PM

Yes, an interesting contrast. Positive-thinking Browning wasn't contemplating 'crossing the bar' anytime soon.

Also a revealing ambiguity in his fourth line. Did he mean that he needed, or that he was needed by, the 'world of men'? Was he trying to convey both meanings?

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.mclnva23.covad.net)
Date: October 30, 2004 12:53PM

Well, if RB was straight (and all indications are that he was), then the sailor portrayed getting laid by the farm girl was heading back to sea, a career for a manly man.

Question about Crossing the bar and Prospice
Posted by: Pınar (144.122.250.---)
Date: December 18, 2004 05:28AM

 Can anyone help me about the comparison of the attitude towards death expressed in Robert Browning's "Prospice" with that in "Crossing the bar?"

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: December 18, 2004 08:19AM

by Robert Browning

Fear death?---to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form;
Yet the strong man must go:
For the journey is done and the summit attained,
And the barriers fall,
Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, so---one fight more,
The best and the last!
I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
And made me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers,
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave.
The black minute's at end,
And the elements' rage, the fiend voices that rave,
Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain.
Then a light, then thy breast,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest!

Re: Question about Crossing the bar and Prospice
Posted by: Pınar (144.122.250.---)
Date: December 24, 2004 07:20PM

Pleaseeeeeeee help me about the attitudes towards death in Prospice and Crossing the bar I really needd heeelllppp!!!

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: December 24, 2004 07:28PM

Here you go:

[www.cs.rice.edu] />


Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: zeynep (144.122.250.---)
Date: December 27, 2004 03:59PM

I need help about the attitudes of the poets' toward death in Prosipice by Robert Browning and Crossing the Bar by Tennyson

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-01rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: December 28, 2004 11:40AM

  1. They are not afraid of it.
    1. They both think there is a Heaven where they shall spend eternity.

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: January 01, 2005 10:12AM

Tennyson's poem doesn't mention at all the physical aspects of death. He refers to it simply by romantic euphemisms: putting out to sea; a tide turning again home; embarking; crossing the bar.

The Browning poem also uses various metaphors for death, but is focused on the physical struggle involved.

There's no indication that Tennyson envisages any suffering or putting up any resistance. He treats dying, not as a test of courage, but as a peaceful process, like a calm high tide returning to the ocean. He will just go with the flow, relying entirely on his heavenly Pilot. Other than saying he hopes to meet his Pilot 'face to face' he says nothing about the nature of his imagined after-life.

Browning, in contrast, presents death as something painful to be experienced and fought against. He is resolved to confront it unflinchingly, like 'the heroes of old'. (In Dylan Thomas' words, he will 'not go gently into that good night'). He regards this 'best' and 'last' fight as a way of redeeming a life which has been too free of suffering. It is an opportunity to pay, in one paroxysmal minute, 'glad life's arrears of pain, darkness and cold'. He doesn't want to be anesthetized. For him, heaven is the reward for facing up bravely to the physical suffering of death. For the brave, says the poem, the 'worst turns the best', and when that 'black minute' is ended, peace will come out of the pain and light out of the darkness, and he will be able to embrace his creator. (I'm assuming the 'breast' he refers to in the third-last line is God's, and not that of some lady love who predeceased him).

As Hugh says, they are both unafraid of death; but you could say that Tennyson is passively unafraid, while Browning is determined to be actively unafraid. A difference reflecting their different personalities.


Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: zeynep_metu (144.122.250.---)
Date: January 03, 2005 02:31PM

Thank you so much!!!!!!!!

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: January 03, 2005 05:03PM

You're welcome.

I have belatedly looked at that Minstrels site cited by Les, and realize that, contrary to my assumption, the embrace Browning was looking forward to in the afterlife was not God's but that of his recently deceased wife and soulmate. That's a clear inference in the light of the facts. (I'd still argue that the poem alone, read without regard to the circumstances in which it was written, is capable of the other interpretation which I gave it).

It's another point of contrast with Tennyson's poem. Browning writes of heaven as place of reunion, even physical reunion, with departed dear ones. Tennyson says nothing of that. He just hopes to meet his maker.

Re: crossing the bar
Posted by: zeynep_metu (---.lab.fedu.metu.edu.tr)
Date: January 06, 2005 08:21AM

I was typing my assignment to submit to my instructor and I saw the last message you sent.
I want to say that I agree with you in your arguement point .I think it should be taken into consideration while dealing with this poem as well.
I again thank you so much...


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