TPCASTT: Poem Analysis Method: title, paraphrase, connotation, diction, attitude, tone, shift(s), title revisited
I think the Title of poem means:
T As the title implies, the speaker will be crossing the bar. The definition of the bar is not
stated but we can assume that the speaker means to use the word bar as in sandbar, as a
metaphor for the barrier between life and death.
Paraphrase parts of the Poem
P Day pass and night come,
Let the ocean be calm,
Let the waves not beat the sandbar,
When I head out on the water,
Let the tide be perfect,
So that the ocean makes no foam or sound,
And have all that has been moved from the depths,
Return to where it belongs.
The day ends and the night falls,
Soon it will be dark,
Do not cry when I am gone,
Have no sadness when I depart.
I will be carried beyond the earth,
Beyond time and place,
I hope to see my maker face to face,
When I have crossed this sandbar.
Connotation of some of the words—changing literal meaning to implied or associated values
Throughout the poem Tennyson uses an extended metaphor with the sandbar. Literally the
C sandbar is a ridge where sand has built up due to currents along the coast. Metaphorically,
the bar is a barrier between life and death. “Crossing” the bar is significant as well, as it
has the connotation of the “crossing over” in to the next life. The word obviously has a
Christian significance, as it can be related to Catholic traditions and Jesus’ death on the
cross. The indication that night has begun to approach comes from “Sunset and evening
star” (1) and “Twilight and evening bell” (9). The use of exclamation marks in “one clear call
for me!” (2) and “after that the dark!” (10) demonstrates the speakers dramatic realization
of what death will be like.
Attitude—What is the attitude of the author, characters, or yourself?
“Crossing the Bar” was Tennyson’s last poem and the attitude of the poem reflects that. In
A preparation for his death, that would shortly follow the publishing of this poem, Tennyson’s
attitude was placid and peaceful. The speaker too seems to have a calm acceptance of
death, knowing it is inevitable.
Shift—At first we think or feel one way—then there is a shift: identify the shifts and explain them
The shift in the poem comes from the speaker’s acceptance that he will die. In the line
“And after that the dark!” (10) the poem shifts to concerns of the speakers next life. The
S speaker instructs his friends and family how to behave when he is gone.
Title revisited—any new insights on meaning or significance of title.
“Crossing the Bar” is an extended metaphor for passing into the next life and crossing the
T barrier between life and death.
Theme or Author’s Purpose
The author wrote this poem as a way to prepare for his own death that would soon follow.
T Tennyson wished for this to be his last published work demonstrating his acceptance of his
own death and his preparation. It emphasizes his calm and peaceful attitude as he
prepares to meet his ‘Pilot.”