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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
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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