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Death is the reward of Life

Life is considered, by some, to be a journey towards death and the great

reward of afterlife. This traveling process is held in many different views and is

expressed in numerous manners in literature. Two prominent Victorian poets who

wrote on this topic were Alfred Lord Tennyson with ?Crossing the Bar? and

Christina Rossetti with ?Up-Hill?. Through their in-depth and unique use of

imagery, tone and theme, the author?s individual ideals are conveyed in poetic


In ?Crossing the Bar?, Tennyson employs descriptive images that help

portray his views about death. In the beginning of the poem, Tennyson writes,

?Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me?, emphasizing that the skies are

clear and there is overbearing calmness. Tennyson reinforces this portrait by

adding, ?but such a tide as moving seems asleep?, representing that the sea is set

for clear and calm voyage. However, Rossetti?s ?Up-Hill? illustrates a much

different image than ?Crossing the Bar?. She paints a picture of a rough trek

through lines such as, ?Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak??. Rossetti also

writes, ?Then must I knock, or call when I am in sight? They will not keep you

standing at the door.?, which demonstrates of acceptance and openess.

The authors distinct ideals of the journey of life and death of man can also

be interpreted through the tone of each poem. In ?Crossing the Bar?, Tennyson

presents a sense of serenity by expressing his actions confidently that all is well.

This mood is achieved through the lines, ?When that which drew from out the

boundless deep turns home again? and ?For though from out our bourne of Time

Rush 2

and Peace the flood may bear me far?. These lines reassure that no infliction will

occur throughout his travel to see his ?Pilot face to face?. Rossetti?s conception of

life?s journey is not so peaceful as Tennyson?s. The poem is an pendulum of

prying questions with fulfilling answers to which the asking speaker progresses

along. This poetic form makes up a tone that advances in strength through each

stanza. While the overall tone is a positive, there is added element of uncertainty

until the poems conclusion.

Finally, the theme of each poem shows the author?s view on how their own

journey will be. From his writing, Tennyson believes that death and the journey to

the afterlife is an uninterrupted travel which none should display sorrow with the

lines ?And may there be no sadness of farewell when I embark? and ?And may

there be no moaning of the bar when I put out to sea?. Rossetti?s perception of the

attainment of the eternity in afterlife is one full of doubt and inquisition. There is,

however, a higher authority who does answer the inquiries with comforting

revelations. This theme is demonstrated by the lines, ?Will there be beds for me

and all who seek? Yes, beds for all who come.?.

The journey of life does vary immensely from person to person, making

poems such as these all the more interesting. Such as life, the idea of death and

what follows it is also as wide in view bringing upon more intrigue and insight.

Tennyson and Rossetti?s poems contrast each other magnificently in the range of

which man views the subject. While Tennyson sees his death as a calm sea

voyage, Rossetti?s travel is an uphill struggle to achieve the greatness of

immortality. The works usage?s of tone and imagery help transpose the author?s

themes and purposes more clearly and eloquently.

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