Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar” has several allusions to death as a return rather than a departure. The poem obviously has its roots firmly planted in Western Christian ideology that also posits death as a homecoming rather than something mournful. Indeed, Tennyson encourages celebration when he finally crosses the bar. He does not want the event to be a mournful one:
“Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,” (1259).
The most obvious allusion to Tennyson’s journey “home” comes in the second stanza, when he cleverly compares the cycle of his life to the cycle of the tides:
“But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.” (1259).
This metaphor is especially potent because it reflects Christian beliefs concerning life and the afterlife. Indeed, people are granted life from the Christian God, are sent to earth, and then recede back into heaven after their lives conclude. Thus, the tide metaphor is incredibly apt to capture the beats of that belief system. Tennyson alludes to death as a homecoming throughout the poem, and incorporates elements of the Christian faith to reinforce this imagery.
I pulled my textual evidence from The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume E, 9th Edition.