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Crossing the Bar question

Related threads:
Tune Req: Crossing the bar - Tennyson (20)
Lyr Add: Crossing the Bar (Tennyson, Arbo) (27)
Crossing the Bar MP3 (14)


meself 22 Aug 16 - 08:17 AM
meself 22 Aug 16 - 08:21 AM
Will Fly 22 Aug 16 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,HiLo 22 Aug 16 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 22 Aug 16 - 06:19 PM
Joe Offer 22 Aug 16 - 06:27 PM
Jeri 22 Aug 16 - 07:05 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Aug 16 - 07:26 PM
meself 22 Aug 16 - 07:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Aug 16 - 08:15 PM
Joe_F 22 Aug 16 - 08:24 PM
Joe Offer 23 Aug 16 - 12:18 AM
Mysha 23 Aug 16 - 05:33 AM
meself 23 Aug 16 - 08:00 AM
DaveRo 23 Aug 16 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,HiLo 23 Aug 16 - 10:30 AM
doc.tom 23 Aug 16 - 10:54 AM
meself 23 Aug 16 - 11:04 AM
meself 23 Aug 16 - 11:10 AM
GUEST 23 Aug 16 - 01:08 PM
meself 23 Aug 16 - 01:14 PM
bubblyrat 23 Aug 16 - 03:05 PM
Rob Naylor 23 Aug 16 - 04:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Aug 16 - 09:50 PM
GUEST 09 Aug 18 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,henryp 09 Aug 18 - 04:34 PM
Tattie Bogle 09 Aug 18 - 07:58 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Aug 18 - 08:16 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Aug 18 - 08:26 PM
GUEST 09 Aug 18 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,Observer 10 Aug 18 - 03:48 AM
DaveRo 10 Aug 18 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Gerry 10 Aug 18 - 05:16 AM
vectis 10 Aug 18 - 07:40 PM
Rumncoke 11 Aug 18 - 08:00 AM
GUEST 11 Aug 18 - 11:15 AM
GUEST 11 Aug 18 - 11:21 AM
EBarnacle 11 Aug 18 - 03:36 PM
Amos 11 Aug 18 - 04:08 PM
Trevor 13 Aug 18 - 07:49 AM
henryclem 13 Aug 18 - 04:30 PM
meself 15 Aug 18 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,akenaton 18 Aug 18 - 06:43 AM
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Subject: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 08:17 AM

The Tennyson poem, that is - I'm not talking about becoming a mixologist.

My question is about the 'one clear call'. While the metaphorical meaning is, um, clear, I've been pondering the 'surface' meaning. Since every other image in the poem can be readily identified with the harbour-at-dusk scene, with its business of the vessel setting out to sea, it is my suspicion that a Victorian reader would identify the 'call' as having a certain customary function in that context, e.g., the call of a shipboard official for a lollygagging passenger or seaman, which would not require any explanation. While there are no doubt many possibilities, I wonder if anyone has any reason to distinguish this 'call' as of a specific type ... ?


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 08:21 AM

(Sorry, mods; can you put this below the bar -I mean, 'line'? Thanks!)
    I can't see any reason why this should be in the "BS" section. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 08:49 AM

I've always imagined it as the last call for passengers to board - with the metaphor of clear, impending death in mind.

I was in Salcombe in Devon some years ago and was told that it was the sand bar across the river mouth that inspired Tennyson, who had visited the town, with the idea of crossing the bar from life to death. Whether true or not, I don't know.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 12:44 PM

One of my favourite poems by Tennyson. I always thought it alluded to death. I suppose I took that meaning for granted as it seems to be the theme of the whole piece. I find your reference to a "surface" meaning very interesting, can you explain a bit more. Do you mean a more literal meaning as opposed to a metaphorical one?


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 06:19 PM

"I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;...

From "Sea-Fever", John Masefield (1902 or 1916 or...)

Well used phrase in Protestant lit. I've not heard of a specific nautical usage.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 06:27 PM

There's a nice piece on "Crossing the Bar" at Wikipedia, not that it answers the original question.

I'm wondering if there are any sailors here who can give us more information on crossing the bar. The most significant bar crossing I know of, is at the mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, on the border between Oregon and the State of Washington. At Astoria, the river goes straight out into the Pacific Ocean. Most other natural harbors I know of, have some sort of lagoon or bay separating the river from the ocean, or the river takes a turn at the end and enters the ocean at more of a right angle. But the Columbia River empties straight into the ocean. One can see an area of very rough water not far beyond the mouth of the river, and that area is a legendarily treacherous crossing - so local pilots are employed to take ships across the bar. There are shipwrecks on either side of the bar, one or two still visible above the surface of the water. I don't know what phenomenon makes the "bar" so treacherous, of how much shallower it is at the bar.

I'm wondering if the "one clear call" is a warning to crew and passengers about approaching the danger of the bar.

I also wonder how long "crossing the bar" has been a symbol for death - did Tennyson initiate it?

I'm also wondering about various musical settings of "Crossing the Bar." The only one I really know is the one by Rani Arbo. The copyright date I have for the Rani Arbo setting is 1997. Are there other well-known arrangements?

Although I once thought otherwise, I take it that Rani Arbo is a female; and that the members of her band, Daisy Mayhem, are all men. Is that correct?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 07:05 PM

Yes, Joe. I found the following by the rather ingenious method of typing "Daisy Mayhem" into Google. Rani Arbo % Daisy Mayhem" I've seen them, and they're good. The song, IMO, is far more like "genius" than "good".
Agree that this belongs in "General (and/or) Music".

Oh yeah: this (also found by using Google) is a rather good explanation of meanings: http://www.sparknotes.com


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 07:26 PM

There's the Spooky Men's Chorale rendering, which raises the hairs on my neck. Amazing stuff. Try it on YouTube.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 07:42 PM

HiLo: "I always thought it alluded to death. I suppose I took that meaning for granted as it seems to be the theme of the whole piece. I find your reference to a "surface" meaning very interesting, can you explain a bit more. Do you mean a more literal meaning as opposed to a metaphorical one?"

There's no question that the 'call' is to death/afterlife - metaphorically. I intentionally avoided using the term 'literal' meaning, choosing 'surface' meaning, because I thought that in this poem there might be disagreement as to what constituted its 'literal' meaning - but, yes, that's what I meant! So, on the 'surface', you have a guy about to get on a ship that will cross the bar to get out to sea, and he hopes it goes smoothly and peacefully over that bar, etc. My point is that since all the other elements of the 'surface' setting and action would have been immediately familiar (presumably) to a Victorian reader, the 'call' must likewise have been familiar - as a specific call you would hear in that situation - as opposed to a random unexplained call that is there only to serve as a metaphor.

The idea of a last call for passengers makes sense - even a call for one specific passenger ("Hey you - with the scraggly beard and big black hat - are you coming or not?). And that does seem the sort of thing a Victorian would get right away - although I don't recall it being mentioned in any of the old songs ....


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 08:15 PM

I've taken it as being like the last call in a pub - but maybe that's because my subconscious was misinterpreting "no moaning at the bar"...


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Joe_F
Date: 22 Aug 16 - 08:24 PM

My mother used to sing this. Here the "across the bar" seems to mean safety rather than death:

Brighten the Corner Where You Are

Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Refrain:
Brighten the corner where you are!
Brighten the corner where you are!
Someone far from harbor you may guide across the bar;
Brighten the corner where you are!

Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear,
Let not narrow self your way debar;
Though into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer,
Brighten the corner where you are.

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,
Brighten the corner where you are.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 12:18 AM

Gee, Joe - that's a song I knew part of, most of my life. Thanks for making the connection.

Hi, Jeri - I found the Rani Arbo Website long ago, when I was licensing the song for the Rise Again Songbook. But in the photo of the band on that page, it's the guy with the resonator guitar who's in the forefront and appears twice as large as the other band members, so I assumed he was Rani Arbo. And then Daisy Mayhem would be the woman with the fiddle and the other two instrumentalists. But no, I found out later that Rani was the female fiddler. On the bottom of the page, they now have names of the performers under their photos, but I didn't notice that at first. So, as with most of life, I was confused.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Mysha
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 05:33 AM

Hi,

The call for all sailors to return to ship, and all others to go to their side of the gangway etc., is "All aboard". Maybe even clearer to those in harbour towns would be the flag signal for this command:
Hoisting the Blue Peter at the fore.

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 08:00 AM

Now, I always associated the call of "All aboard!" with passenger trains, although it's no surprise that it should have originated on ships. I wonder if anyone knows an example from literature in which "All aboard!" is used with its nautical association, and as presumably familiar to the reader? Again, I can't recall it from the old songs ....


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: DaveRo
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 10:14 AM

Many harbours have bars (sand bars) including Salcombe already mentioned. They can prevent entry and exit to an estuary at some states of the tide, and can in some weather make it too dangerous to attempt entry due to breaking waves. Bars move, so in some places local knowledge - or a pilot - is essential.

According to wikipedia Tennyson's "moaning of the bar" refers to the sound of water breaking on the bar. I've sailed out of Salcombe and not heard that, but maybe. The bar as a metaphor for death I find puzzling. It's not an irrevocable step - wait 6 hours or so and you can usually cross back. But once you're across the bar you're free to voyage anywhere - it's the last obstacle.
Joe_F wrote: My mother used to sing this. Here the "across the bar" seems to mean safety rather than death
Yes. If you're entering a harbour once you're across the bar you're safe - especially if you manage it in a storm.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 10:30 AM

Thank you meself, I do see what you mean. But I guess I am still of the opinion that the poem is about death.
The worst "bar" I am aware of is the one near Padstow on the Camel Estuary, it is called The Doom Bar, with good reason. There was once, and may still be, a Pub there, gruesomely called The Doom Bar.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: doc.tom
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 10:54 AM

Most medium and major river outfalls (perhaps except where there is a delta) have a bar - sand or shingle. The Doom Bar @ Padstow is one of the best known (especially as the Rock brewery named a beer after it!). My nearest one is the Bideford Bar (or Barnstaple bar depending on which town you come from).

From the shipping yards on the Torridge side,
O'er the Bideford Bar to the ocean wide,
Sailed Frobisher, aye, and Grenville too,
In ships of fame with the world to view.

The 'moaning' of a bar is the sound of the tide across bar, particularly of shingle bars - a danger sign that the water is low over the bar, hence 'may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea'. DaveRo is spot on above although I don't find the metaphor peculiar at all.

The poem is usually regarded as a passage of death poem - hence its use in many funeral services (including that of shantyman John Short). At the last count, I am aware of 100 different settings - from Ralph Vaughan Williams to John Philip Sousa - google it and you'll see. Rani Arbo's setting came into Britain with Jeff Warner.

I've never thought of 'one clear call for me' as having other meanings - other than a clean death in a strong faith. If only I believed in God I'd chose the poem/setting for my funeral.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 11:04 AM

"But I guess I am still of the opinion that the poem is about death."

It is unquestionably about death - but it is using a prospective sea-voyage as a metaphor - so it should make sense on the 'surface' level (prospective sea-voyage) and on the 'deeper' level (death). Just as, for example, The Road Not Taken is about choosing a road in the woods and, at the same time, about choosing what to do with your life - and it makes sense on both levels.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 11:10 AM

" I'd chose the poem/setting for my funeral."

Actually, what got me thinking about the 'clear call' was seeing the lines 'Sunset and evening star,/And one clear call for me' on a tombstone a few days ago.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 01:08 PM

"Doom Bar" is of course a popular beer, widely on tap.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 01:14 PM

Now you're talking!


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: bubblyrat
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 03:05 PM

We have a section in the journal of the Fleet Air Arm Association which is dedicated to those members who have recently "crossed the bar", as giving up the ghost is referred to in the Royal Navy.Whether the"bar" in question is a specific location ie The Palace Long Bar in Union Street,Plymouth, Millie's Bar in Changi ,Singapore or a bar in Cornwall is somewhat academic as far as Jolly Jack is concerned !!


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 04:30 PM

And then there's the 1971 science fiction short story by Richard McKenna: "Unclear Call For Lee".

I read it when it first came out, but it was the mid-80s before I made the connection with Tennyson, though I'd known the poem before I read the story!


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Aug 16 - 09:50 PM

A poem that always links itself to this in my mind is Henry Lawson's "The outside track", with Gerry Hallom's fine tune.

In that the surface story about someone leaving on a voyage, with little likelihood of coming back, is much more dominant - but it's also got the death image, less clearly implied.

But it's there in the last verse all right -

And one by one, and two by two,
They've sailed from the quay since then;
I've said good-bye to the last I knew,
The last of the careless men;
And I can't but think that the times we had
Were the best times after all,
As I turn aside, raise my glass,
And drink to this barroom wall.
For they marry and go
As the world rolls back,
They marry and vanish and die;
But their spirit shall live on the outside track,
As long as the years go by.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 18 - 03:17 PM

I live within a few hundred metres of the bar where the Taw And Torridge rivers empty into Bideford bay, it is a very dangerous feature of the river and in the past many ships " Crossing the Bar" even with a pilot came to grief when under sail. at certain times the sound of the waves on the bar sounds like moaning... the poet uses his knowledge of the sea really well to allude to death and moving through dangers to peace.... Doom Bar in Devon And cornwall is also a well loved Beer.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 09 Aug 18 - 04:34 PM

From the Westminster Abbey website;

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate, died on 6th October 1892 at his home in Haslemere, Surrey. On October 11th the coffin was brought to Westminster Abbey and lay overnight in St Faith's chapel.

The next day the funeral was attended by thousands of mourners. The Abbey organist, Frederick Bridge, set to music words from Tennyson's 'Crossing the Bar'.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 09 Aug 18 - 07:58 PM

I first heard THE most beautiful sung version of this by Craig, Morgan and Robson, using the Rani Arbo setting, back in the early 2000s, so well before the Spooky Men recorded their excellent version.
We did have the CMR recording played at my Dad's funeral in early 2011, he having been in the Royal Navy.
I have always assumed the "moaning of the bar" to refer to the freak winds you get over such sand bars at harbour mouths.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Aug 18 - 08:16 PM

I have a number of t-shirts that have the Doom Bar logo emblazoned on them. For about five years from 2008 I was a member of the Doom Bar flavour panel at Sharps brewery in Rock. We met every Friday afternoon at two o'clock, and the then head brewer, Stuart Howe, would serve us with the latest batches (gyles) of Doom Bar, drawn straight from the casks at perfect temperature, to receive our opinions. We'd all been trained to assess the beer for about twelve different attributes, filling in a detailed form, and then come to an overall judgement. We all took the task very seriously and our conclusions definitely had a big impact on the final product that was served in pubs. There was no payment except that we were allowed to help ourselves to the beer in the casks that had been opened for the tastings. I equipped meself with two 16-pint pressure casks so I always came away happy...

The Camel estuary Doom Bar is best observed from the Leadmines car park at Pentireglaze when the tide is very low, or from Pentire Head, though you can often see a long line of breaking waves across the bay even when the sandbar is under water. My favourite walk in the whole world is from Pentireglaze Farm out to the cliffs, then round the Rumps peninsula with its Iron Age hillfort (don't miss the Rumps out!), then south to Pentire Head, then into the bay down the long path almost to Polzeath, before heading back inland to Pentireglaze. There's a place on the clifftop where Laurence Binyon wrote his poem For The Fallen, marked by a small plaque in a spot with a perfect view back to The Rumps. It's easy to miss it and we often point it out to walkers who don't know it's there just off the coast path. It's very nice to arrive at Leadmines just before your walk so that you can have a picnic first. My son proposed to his future wife on top of the Rumps (we were there at the time but we hadn't a clue what he was up to, and he had a job getting rid of us in order to do the deed!), and there's a certain spot with a fabulous view back towards Port Isaac where all my family know I want my ashes scattered (a long time hence, hopefully).


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Aug 18 - 08:26 PM

Hi, Guest. The missus and I often use the Tarka Trail for a bike ride and we often go shopping in Barnstaple. Our last visit was for the Race For Life on July 1 when Mrs Steve did the 5K run in about 32 minutes, brilliant for her age which I could not possibly divulge. And where would we be without Atlantic Village with its Asda and Cadburys outlet shop...


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 18 - 09:15 PM

Joe sez : The most significant bar crossing I know of, is at the mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, on the border between Oregon and the State of Washington.

A song about the Columbia River Bar. I've seen graves on the Long Beach Peninsula, (where the bodies usually washed ashore), marked Unknown Seaman.

Need Another Hand


Crossing the Columbia River Bar - Cape Disappointment 8/22/15 No Restrictions - No Problem






22 Aug 16 - 06:27 PM


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 03:48 AM

If memory serves another feature that made/makes the bar across the entrance to Salcombe is that in certain sea conditions sailing vessels with deep long keels can ground even at high water/near high water due to the scend of the sea. The Channel Pilot's sailing directions for Salcombe states that:

"It is inadvisable to attempt to cross the bar on an ebb tide with strong onshore winds or swell"


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: DaveRo
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 04:51 AM

Indeed. The entrance is quite tricky:
http://www.cruiserswiki.org/wiki/Salcombe#Navigation


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 05:16 AM

meself wrote, 23 Aug 16 - 08:00 AM,

>Now, I always associated the call of "All aboard!" with passenger trains, although
>it's no surprise that it should have originated on ships. I wonder if anyone knows
>an example from literature in which "All aboard!" is used with its nautical association,
>and as presumably familiar to the reader? Again, I can't recall it from the old songs ....

It's in Leadbelly's song about the Titanic:

Titanic, when it got its load,
Captain hollered, "All aboard"
Cryin' fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: vectis
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 07:40 PM

Tennyson lived on The Isle of Wight for many years and used the Lymington to Yarmouth ferry as it was the nearest to his home.

Lymington bar has a legend that if you hear the bar moaning it means that you will die soon. The Lymington bar is not a hard one to navigate, being mainly mud and sand and not very large, so few will hear it moaning.

When Tennyson went to Salcombe he may well have heard the bar there moaning and put the sound with the local Lymington story to come up with the idea for the poem.

Just a theory but one that does make some sort of sense.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Rumncoke
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 08:00 AM

I think that the Channel Pilot was written by one - or more - with a distinct tendency for the understatement.
There is a tradition of such things though - even as far back as the Psalms.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 11:15 AM

My gran was from North Devon and used to use the Phrase" he or she has answered the call" to mean that the person had died. the call being the call from our lord to the hereafter.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 11:21 AM

The Bar at Appledore is just to the left of my cottage on winter nights the Moaning if u walk on the skern shore is very clear.it is one of the most dangerous bars in the Uk. Thanks for the lyrics mudcatters


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 03:36 PM

To extend the analogy, putting to sea or, in this case, crossing the bar is setting out into the Great Unknown. As no one know what occurs to the spirit, Tennyson could well have been saying, "Don't mourn my passing as I am off on the next great adventure of my soul."


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Amos
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 04:08 PM

The meaning of the "one clear call" seems straightforward--the call to return to the sea, or metaphorically, to go beyond the edge of this mortal coil. There is moaning at the bar only when the tide is too shallow to ensure safe crossing; in a deep tide, the waters still and the crossing is certain.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: Trevor
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 07:49 AM

This is Rapsquillion's attempt
at this beautiful song. We used Sarah Morgan's arrangement but did use the parts slightly differently to Craig, Morgan Robson. (And Sarah, was very helpful when we were working it out).

We used a slightly different mix of this performance on our album 'Geriatrica', and we were very honoured to be asked to go into our local BBC radio studio to sing it live as a tribute to Sarah after her untimely death.


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: henryclem
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 04:30 PM


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: meself
Date: 15 Aug 18 - 08:54 AM

'The meaning of the "one clear call" seems straightforward--the call to return to the sea, or metaphorically, to go beyond the edge of this mortal coil. '

To go back to where we started: it's my contention that the 'clear call' refers literally to some specific call that would be a familiar feature of sea-travel, such as the 'All aboard!' announcement referenced above. Perhaps that's what you meant? Or do you mean more of a vague 'I must go down to the sea again' sentiment, in which case, the 'call' is already metaphorical ... ?


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Subject: RE: Crossing the Bar question
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 18 Aug 18 - 06:43 AM

Could be the harbour bar which was built to protect fro prevailing winds..."inside the bar", "Heading toward the bar", as in
"Final Trawl"


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