What is the relevance of the poem “Crossing the Bar” to our present day?

The relevance of the poem “Crossing the Bar” to our present day is that it allows us to face up to our inevitable deaths without fear. Most people fear death, and yet Tennyson's poem shows us that there's no reason for this.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Today, as in Tennyson's time, most people fear death. That is if they think about death at all, which most people don't do for the obvious reason that it's all rather depressing to contemplate the inevitable.

For those who do think about death, however, and are thoroughly frightened at the prospect, Tennyson's “Crossing the Bar” is on hand to calm their fears. In a deft use of metaphor, Tennyson likens our passing from this world to the next to crossing the sandbar from the river of life to the boundless depths that lie beyond the ocean.

Tennyson demystifies the experience of death and, in doing so, makes it less scary. As recounted in the poem, the transition from life to death, from the mortal realm to the immortal, is a very smooth, serene process, guided at every stage by the pilot of the ship, a metaphor for Christ. As Christ as our guide, we have nothing to worry about, and when we have finally “crossed the bar,” then we will see him face-to-face.

All in all, then, death is nothing to worry about. And whatever one's religion—or indeed, if one doesn't have a religion at all—this is a powerful message as relevant today as it was when Tennyson wrote “Crossing the Bar,” towards the end of his life.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on