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“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,

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.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.”

Written in 1889, Tennyson speaks of his own impending death, which happened a few years after the poem was written. Within the poem, the image of the sea is used to represent the ‘barrier’ between life and death just as Denny Bradbury does in her poem ‘Broken in Time’ from her new collection of poetry “De:versify” when she writes of how the power of the sea ultimately breaks everything down to mere grains of sand:

“Sea reclaims its own
Pulling earth to drown
Sea reclaims its own
Shore has nowhere to turn.

Large boulders line the beach
Into pebbles given time
Then broken down to grains of sand
And silt and dust withal….”

Both Denny Bradbury and Tennyson draw reference to the vast natural power of the sea, with the ever-present danger to the men who cross it keeping the line between life and death always visible:

“….. However we perceive us to be
We will be brought down by time
We will be pounded and rounded
Until we are sand
Then we’ll hear only the sea” ~ ‘Broken in Time’

Tennyson talks of “crossing the bar” – a metaphor to describe moving over from life to death through the description of a physical bar of sand in shallow water.  He sets the poem at the end of the day, as if to represent a late stage in life and his reference to his own “moving on” means his description of evening can be seen to be illustrating old age. The sky darkens from ‘sunset’ to ‘twilight’ through to ‘dark’ and this notion of the passing of time is also echoed in the rhythm of the poem – each verse made of four lines of varying syllables.  Tennyson talks of the tide that ‘turns again home’:

“…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….”

Denny Bradbury does something similar in her poem “So Grey the Sea” where she talks of coming full circle and returning home, despite all the life experiences that one goes through:

“So grey the sea
All white the foam
I journey forth
To come back home…”

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