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That scribal device occurs no less than four times in the written text: already in the opening line and then once in each of the succeeding stanzas as if serving as a reminder there.

The Spooky Men's Chorale - Crossing the Bar, in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral

Hence the final effect of the crucial crossed "t" at the tail end actually amplifies the hidden symbolic overtones as witnessed earlier. Because I have not had the privilege of examining Tennyson's other manuscripts in detail, I am unable to determine whether his use of the ampersand was particularly characteristic of his style in general, whereas it does pointedly stand out here, as the published transcript from the Tennyson Research Centre reveals.

But that hardly dispells the value of the particular usage in "Crossing the Bar. Other, more clandestine hints of the cruciform image also emerge. For example, the third line, "And may there be no moaning of the bar," presents a subliminal resonance, one pointing not only to a ship crossing the perilous sandbar, that being the obvious occasion of the poem at least in its final form , but also to simply crossing a vertical in forming a cruciform image.

The restraint related to "moaning" in the line could then reflect on the physical suffering commonly associated with the Crucifixion yet, in context, also point therewith to the true Christian's stalwart obligation to bear his own cross daily and without complaint. More intriguingly yet, the term "bourne" in the manuscript 13 represents still a further echo, but this time not from Tennyson's own work or from Milton ; it goes further back and even to Shakespeare, specifically to Hamlet's most popular soliloquy, notably the following lines which point to his fundamental predicament:.

On the surface, true, such a Hamletian recollection may appear to detract from a more specifically Christian nuance in this poetic context, for clearly the very problematic point of the famed soliloquy is that the Danish Prince has apparently witnessed the Ghost of his father unless the specter is a devil in disguise , has therefore presumably confronted a returnee from the land of the dead. Was he out of his mind?

More by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Certainly one standard answer has been that what he, in truth, implies is that no traveler definitely returns for good from the Land Beyond. Yet further exegesis prompts the verdict that the speaker cannot make up his erratic mind precisely what to believe, whether to accept a Catholic, if in this case also folklorish, belief in disembodied souls returning from purgatorial confines, or to disdain this popularized doctrine as mere superstition possibly owing to his hitherto having made some relevant, learned studies at the university in Wittenberg. If the Poet Laureate appropriated any of such Hamletian ambivalence, he could well have thought of it somehow in terms of the capitalized Pilot image.


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This final possibility happened to receive some telling support from my correspondence with Sir Charles Tennyson. For a number of other nouns are noticeably also capitalized, including ones in the final stanza as well, "Time" and "Place. Clearly the New Testament is explicitly evident in Tennyson's turn of phrase "face to face" 15 from 1 Cor. Yet, at the same time, most probably all of the allusions were on the back of his fertile psyche.

This is supported by Paull Baum's finding three separate versions of how the lyric was composed: that stated in Hallam Lord Tennyson's Memoir and dealing with composition after reaching Farringford; that by Sir Charles which involves his jotting the lines down on the inside of a used envelope en route; and finally that attributed to Canon Rawnsley involving composition on a long walk. Still, Tennyson owned this poem and read some of Kingsley's poetry to a friend, as Ricks tells us.

Poetry Out Loud

Granted, as Robert Bernard Martin has to remind us, the poem ideally amounts to "a fitting encapsulation of the childlike faith" that Tennyson felt, 17 whereby such an annotation again would summon up for us an inherent allusion to the Christian Savior, His admonition about His followers needing to become again like little children in the simplicity of their faith Mark , thereby being able to accept graciously what heaven has in store.

The final suggestiveness, however, must be in terms of God as Alpha and Omega, the "progress outward which is yet a circling home," 19 whereby the critical reader nowadays is prone to enlist historically the familiar analogous evidence in John Donne, not to forget the modernist analogy in T. Eliot's familiar dictum about coming to terms in the end with our true beginning "Burnt Norton" V. Therefore, although the proposed "echoing" of Milton in "Crossing the Bar" could be thought of as overly simplistic initially, it nevertheless should readily come first to many a scholarly mind—whether or not the Lycidean Pilot has then to be taken, in historical terms, as a literal surrogate for the Savior as proper Steersman.

Bauer, Matthias. Fleissner, R.

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New York: Peter Lang, Leary, Lewis, ed. Leoff, Eve. No voice will tell. The Poems of Tennyson. Berkeley: U of California P, Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works. Alfred Harbage. New York: Viking, The Pelican ed.


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  4. Wheelwright, Philip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, Fleissner Published in Connotations Vol. More intriguingly yet, the term "bourne" in the manuscript 13 represents still a further echo, but this time not from Tennyson's own work or from Milton ; it goes further back and even to Shakespeare, specifically to Hamlet's most popular soliloquy, notably the following lines which point to his fundamental predicament: But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovered Countrey, from whose Borne No Traveller returnes, Puzels the will ….

    Central State University Wilberforce, Ohio. Works Cited Bauer, Matthias.

    Baum, Paull F. Buckley, Jerome Hamilton. Tennyson: The Growth of a Poet. Cambridge: Harvard UP, Hinman, Charlton, ed. The First Folio of Shakespeare. New York: Norton, Levi, Peter. Now if we read the stanza in reverse order it becomes easier to understand that the poet is going to commit suicide. He has heard a clear voice this voice can be of his heart.

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    Cambridge Authors » Practical Criticism: Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the Bar’

    It tells him that the evening of his life has arrived and he should begin the new journey. The second stanza can be an explanation of the first one. The poet says the tide which was full of might is moving now in such a way that it seems to be quiet and weak. Its might is gone it can neither produce sound nor foam.

    It came from deep inside the sea and now going back to its origin. Going deeper into the words we find that the tide here refers to the life. The poet says that though he seems to be alive yet he is dead as he has no energy left. He is now going back to the place from where he came to the world. The third stanza is quite similar to the first one. The poet uses different images to depict the same ideas described in the first stanza.

    He says that it is evening now and the evening bell has rung. After this, it would be dark. In the deeper sense, his end is near.


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    Now he will die.