Unit 4 Life & Death: Crossing the Bar – Class 9 English Exercise

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a poem written against serious note of death. The poem is included in the English of class 9 as reading text. In this article we have published the exercise of the poem with summary and grammar.

Exercise of Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson

About the Poem:

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Crossing the Bar” delves into the theme of death, employing the metaphor of a journey to the sea to symbolize the transition from life to death. The poet presents a contemplation of mortality, exploring the notions of journeying, accepting the inevitability of death, and the role of faith in facing this universal experience. Additionally, the poem adheres to the ABAB rhyme scheme, which contributes to its lyrical and rhythmic qualities.

The theme of journey permeates the poem, as Tennyson employs the metaphor of crossing the bar, which signifies the boundary between life and death. This journey serves as a representation of the transition from the earthly existence to the realm beyond. Through vivid imagery and evocative language, Tennyson conveys the sense of embarking on a voyage into the unknown.

Acceptance of death is another significant theme explored in the poem. Tennyson expresses a tranquil acceptance of the inevitable end of life, emphasizing the importance of embracing mortality rather than fearing it. The speaker acknowledges the natural order of existence, recognizing that death is an integral part of the human journey. This acceptance reflects a profound wisdom and a serene outlook on the ultimate fate that awaits all individuals.

Faith also plays a crucial role in the poem, serving as a guiding force in facing the mysteries of death. Tennyson suggests that faith provides solace and comfort during times of uncertainty and upheaval. The reference to the tide’s movement and the command to “Put out to sea” can be interpreted as an invitation to have faith and trust in a higher power, as one relinquishes control and surrenders to the unfolding of life’s journey.

Furthermore, the poem’s adherence to the ABAB rhyme scheme contributes to its musicality and poetic structure. This rhyme scheme establishes a regular pattern throughout the poem, enhancing its lyrical quality and enabling a smooth flow of ideas. The consistent rhyming pattern also reinforces the underlying themes of harmony and order in the face of mortality.

In summary, “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennyson contemplates the subject of death through the metaphorical journey from life to death. The poem explores themes of journey, acceptance of death, and faith, while the ABAB rhyme scheme adds to its musical and rhythmic composition. Tennyson’s masterful use of language and imagery evokes a contemplative mood, prompting readers to reflect on the profound and inevitable experience of mortality.

Stanza-Wise Summary of Crossing the Bars

Stanza 1

This stanza commences by portraying the liminal period when day transitions into night. The expression “sunset and evening star” serves as a symbol of day’s conclusion. On a profound level, it signifies the cessation of earthly existence and the commencement of the afterlife.

The persona discerns an auditory summons, unmistakably the call of death. Prompted by this beckoning, the persona embarks on a voyage towards the sea, yearning for a tranquil expanse that refrains from emitting the sorrowful resonance of waves colliding against the sand bar. Metaphorically, the sand bar embodies a partition that separates life and death.

Stanza 2

The speaker depicts the tide, previously characterized by its resounding clamor and frothy presence, now subdued and tranquil. Its vigor has waned, rendering it incapable of generating sound or foam. Symbolically, the tide embodies life itself. Despite the speaker’s outward appearance of vitality, they are internally bereft of energy, akin to a lifeless state. Metaphorically, they are retracing their path back to their original source, the place of their emergence into the world.

Stanza 3

The speaker perceives the resonating chime of the evening bell during twilight, signaling the imminent conclusion of the day and the impending arrival of darkness. The speaker expresses a desire to part ways without sorrowful farewells. On a deeper level, this signifies the speaker’s nearing demise. In light of this, the speaker implores their friends not to mourn or grieve once they have departed.

Stanza 4

The speaker possesses the knowledge that the forthcoming flood will transport them beyond the limitations of temporal and spatial boundaries. The earthly realm, commonly referred to as the “bourne of Time and Place,” is perceived as a physical existence. The term “flood” symbolically alludes to the journey into the afterlife. The speaker holds the hope of encountering their Creator, likening them to a Pilot, directly and intimately upon crossing the metaphorical sand bar. The speaker contemplates that it is only upon departing from the earthly realm that they will be granted the opportunity to behold their Creator face to face.


A. Match the words in column A with their meanings in column B.

moaning – v. complaining

boundless- iv. never-ending; infinite

twilight- vii. dusk

embark – iii. go on board

tho’ – ii. though

bourne- i. a boundary; a limit

crost- vi. crossed

B. Fill in the gaps with the words/phrases given below to complete the paraphrase of the poem.

I notice the sunset and evening stars in the sky and hear a sound calling for me loud and clear. I hope that the sandbar will not be disturbed when I go out to sea. Instead, I want to be carried out on a tide moving so slowly it seems almost asleep, and which is too swollen to make a sound. That’s what I want when I return home to the depths of the great unknown. Twilight comes with the evening bell which will be followed by darkness. There don’t need to be any sad goodbyes when I go. Even though I’ll be going far from this time and place, floating on the tide of death, I hope to meet  God, who has been like my pilot in this journey, when I’ve made it across the bar.

C. Answer the following questions.

a. Where does the speaker have to go crossing the sandbar?

⇒ The speaker has to go to the sea crossing the sandbar.

b. Why can’t the tide make a huge sound or create a lather?

⇒ The tide can’t make a huge sound or create a lather because it seems asleep.

c. What do the twilight and the evening bell suggest in the poem?

⇒ In the poem, the twilight and the evening bell suggest the end of the day. In a deeper sense, the speaker’s approaching his end.

d. Where is the speaker going without accepting sad goodbyes?

⇒ The speaker is going to a sea journey without accepting sad goodbyes.

e. Who is the only agent that helps the speaker to go far on his journey?

⇒ His Pilot (God) is the only agent that helps the speaker to go far on his journey.

f. Does the speaker fear death? Why/Why not?

⇒ The speaker does not fear death because he believes that he will be able to see his creator face-to-face in the afterlife. He believes that death is not the end, but rather a transition to a new life.

g. What does the pilot symbolise?

⇒  The pilot symbolises God (his creator).

Grammar II

A. Complete the following sentences with the correct adverbs from the brackets.

I see one or two movies every week. I …. (often/never) ….. go to the movies.

⇒ often

I let my roommate borrow my car just once. I ………… (sometimes/rarely) ……….. let my roommate borrow my car.

⇒ rarely

Maria eats cereal for breakfast seven days a week. Maria …… (usually/always) …….. eats cereal for breakfast.

⇒ always

Four out of five visitors to the museum stay for three hours or longer. Museum visitors ……… (usually/seldom) ….. stay for at least three hours.

⇒ usually

We occasionally have quizzes in history class. The teacher ……… (always/sometimes) …….. gives quizzes in history class.

⇒ sometimes

Subina always misses the morning assembly. She …… (rarely/ never) ……. arrives at school on time.

⇒ never

In the desert, it rains only two days between May and September every year. It ……… (rarely/often) …….. rains there in the summer.

⇒ rarely

Rohit asks me to go to the winter camp, but I don’t accept his invitation. I ……… (seldom/often) …….. go to the winter camp.

⇒ seldom

Lisa and Samrat go fishing/ to dinner at least three times a week. They ……… (usually/seldom) ………. go out to dinner with each other.

⇒ usually

B. Rewrite the following sentences with the correct alternatives from the brackets.

Your friendship over the years and your support ……. (has/have) …….. meant a great deal to us. – plural subject

⇒ have

Hamilton Family Center, a shelter for teenage runaways in San Francisco, ……… (offers/offer) ………. a wide variety of services. – singular subject

⇒ offers

One of the major sources of income of Trinidad ……. (is/are) ……. tourism. – singular subject

⇒ is

The chances of your being promoted …. (is/are) …… excellent. plural subject


There …………… (was/were) …………… a Pokemon card stuck to the refrigerator. – singular subject


Neither the professor nor his assistants …………… (was/were) ……………. able to attend the conference. plural subject

⇒ were

Many hours at the driving range …… (has/have) ……. led us to design golf balls with GPS locators in them. – plural subject

⇒ have

Discovered in the soil of our city garden …….. (was/were) …… a button dating from the turn of the century.- singular subject

⇒ was

Writing II

A. Read the email below and write a reply to Asmita Praja. Express your sympathy and wish that she gets well soon.

From: [email protected]

To: [email protected]

Subject: Expressing sympathy and wishing a speedy recovery

Dear Asmita,

I was deeply saddened to hear about your recent accident. Please accept my sincere sympathy and heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery. Knowing how cautious and careful you are, I find myself wondering how such an unfortunate incident occurred. Nevertheless, I want you to know that I firmly believe it was not your fault.

On a positive note, I’m relieved to hear that you will be able to engage in some bed reading and writing after a week. That’s truly wonderful news! In light of your current situation, I want to assure you that your studies should not be a cause for concern. Your health takes precedence above all else, so it’s crucial that you focus on your recovery. Rest assured that I will take it upon myself to record all the lectures and diligently gather class notes for you. This way, you won’t miss out on any essential information or fall behind your classmates.

Please remember that I am here for you during this challenging time. If there is anything you require, whether it be assistance or simply someone to talk to, please do not hesitate to reach out. Your well-being is of utmost importance, and I am committed to supporting you in any way I can.

Please take care and know that my thoughts are with you as you embark on your journey to regain your strength and well-being. Wishing you a swift recovery.

With deepest sympathy and warmest regards,

With love,