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Crossing the Bar

Crossing the Bar


by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

 Table of Contents


Symbol Analysis

Sunset. Twilight. Dark. Yep, that's pretty much how it goes when you die. First, you grow a little older, a little crustier. Then you grow really old and crusty. And finally, you reach the point of no return—full on nighttime. At least, that's how our speaker sees it.

  • Line 1: The speaker opens the poem by talking about "sunset and evening star." It's the first night imagery, and it sets a tone for what will soon become a whole slew of metaphors comparing death to the coming of night. 
  • Line 5: When the speaker mentions sleep here, we can't help but think of nighttime. 
  • Line 9: "Twilight and evening bell" both refer to a time of day, but, like the images in line 1, they're also metaphors for the speaker's advanced age and impending death.
  • Line 10: After twilight, there is nothing but "the dark." Scary, right? This creepy little line is a reminder that we have no idea what's coming when it comes to death. We're totally in the dark—pardon the pun.

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