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Re: Crossing the bar

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on November 26, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Crossing the bar posted by Henry on November 26, 2003

: : : : where did saying crossed the bar originate

: : : I've looked at several references including two specifically on sayings with origins in seafaring. No luck yet. The Tennyson poem doesn't explain what it means:

: : : Crossing the Bar
: : : Alfred, Lord Tennyson

: : : 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 tho' 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 crost the bar.

: : Here's what one source says:

: :
: : "Crossing the bar" refers to the death of a mariner. The phrase has its origin in the fact that most rivers and bays develop a sandbar across their entrances, and 'crossing the bar' meant leaving the safety of the harbor for the unknown."
: : http://www.usmm.net/poems.html#anchor448654

: Whilst Tennyson indicates death, he uses this metaphor without any suggestion of danger.

In addition, the "moaning of the bar" in line 3 refers to the moaning sound made by wind and waves passing over a sandbar during stormy weather.