phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

Crossing the bar

Posted by ESC on November 26, 2003

In Reply to: Crossing the bar posted by ESC 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."