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A Short Analysis of Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the Bar’

A summary of a classic late poem

‘Crossing the Bar’ was one of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s last poems, composed in 1889, just three years before the end of a long life and prolific career. (He would be UK Poet Laureate for 42 years in total, a record still unsurpassed.) Given its elegiac tone, ‘Crossing the Bar’ has often been analysed or interpreted as Tennyson’s elegy for himself: it describes his anticipation of the ‘crossing’ he must make from life to death.

Crossing the Bar

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. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Tennyson’s ‘The Kraken’

A summary of Tennyson’s apocalyptic poem

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92) didn’t write many sonnets, despite being a prolific poet (the definitive edition of his Poems spans three thick volumes). But ‘The Kraken’ is probably his most resounding success with the sonnet form, though whether it is a sonnet is open to debate. In this post we offer a brief analysis of ‘The Kraken’ in terms of its language, form, meaning, and imagery.

The Kraken

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Tennyson’s ‘Break, Break, Break’

A summary of one of Tennyson’s greatest short poems

‘Break, break, break’: as opening lines go, it’s memorable for repeating the same word three times and allowing no variation on the rhythm or metre. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) wrote many of his greatest poems in response to the sudden death of a close friend in 1833. ‘Break, Break, Break’ is one such poem. Below is the poem, followed by a few words of analysis, addressing the poem’s language, meaning, imagery, and structure.

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me. Read the rest of this entry