Crossing the Bar Questions and Answers
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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Discuss the poet's attitude to death in "Crossing the Bar."

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The poet's attitude to death in "Crossing the Bar" might be described as calm, but with a certain quiet sense of anticipation and optimism. He seems to regard death as an adventure. The poem opens with beautiful, tranquil images of the sunset and the evening star. Grief or mourning would be an inappropriate attitude here, displaying a sadness the poet does not feel for himself.

Juxtaposed with the sense of an adventure into the unknown is the suggestion in the second stanza that the poet is returning home. The contradiction between these two ideas mirrors the way in which the poet seems simultaneously both calm and excited at the prospect of the journey before him.

The third verse echoes the first except that it is later, with twilight and darkness now instead of sunset. There is the same aversion to any displays of melancholy in the poet's request that "there be no sadness of farewell."

The final verse contains a hope to "see my Pilot face to face." This explains the earlier juxtaposition of the ideas of departing on an adventure and returning home. The poet hopes to meet his God, who is described as the Pilot who steers him rather than the Creator who made him. Such an encounter would be both an adventure and a homecoming, to be approached with both calm reverence and excitement.

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