Tuesday

Aug. 6, 2002

Crossing the Bar

by Alfred Tennyson

TUESDAY, 6 AUGUST 2002
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Crossing the Bar," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

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.

Twilight and evening bell,
          And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
          When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
          The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
          When I have crost the bar.


Today is the traditional date of the Feast of the Transfiguration. The story of the Transfiguration is told in the first three Gospels. Mark writes: "Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white... And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, and they were talking with Jesus."

It was on this day in 1945 that a U.S. B29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The uranium fission bomb created an explosion equivalent to twenty thousand tons of TNT. Sixty percent of the city was destroyed, and about eighty thousand people were killed by the blast. Many more people would suffer the effects of radiation in the years to come.

It's the birthday of poet Diane di Prima, born in Brooklyn, New York (1934). In the Fifties, she lived in Greenwich Village and became part of the circle of poets known as the Beats. In 1965, she moved to upstate New York, where she was part of Timothy Leary's psychedelic community. Then it was on to California to live in a commune, study Zen, and raise a family. Along the way, she became known as the most important female Beat poet. Her many books of poetry include Loba (1978), and Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (1990). She also wrote Memoirs of a Beatnik (1969).

It's the birthday of Pop artist Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola, somewhere in Pennsylvania (1928). The son of an immigrant coal miner from Czechoslovakia, he went to school in Pittsburgh, then moved to New York City, where he started his career as a commercial illustrator. He started painting in the 1950s, and burst on the scene in 1962 with an exhibit in Los Angeles that featured his famous silk-screen image of a Campbell's soup can.

It's the birthday of American historian Richard Hofstadter, born in Buffalo, New York (1916). He wrote thirteen books, two of which won the Pulitzer Prize for history: The Age of Reform (1955) and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1964).

It's the birthday of the great Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England (1809). He was the fourth of twelve children and grew up in an isolated rectory in Lincolnshire. He was unhappy at school and his father was an alcoholic, so young Alfred took refuge from his unhappiness in writing. He went on to Cambridge, where he began to make a name for himself as a poet. While he was there, he published his first book of poetry, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830). His closest friend was a young man named Arthur Hallam. Hallam's sudden death in 1832 sent Tennyson into a depression, out of which came some of his most famous works, including "Morte d'Arthur" and In Memoriam (1850). In Memoriam was a huge success, and led Queen Victoria to appoint Tennyson the Poet Laureate. His later works include The Idylls of the King (1859), The Holy Grail and Other Poems (1870) and Tiresias and Other Poems. (1885). Among his most famous individual poems are "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1854) and "Crossing the Bar" (1889), which Tennyson requested be placed at the end of all editions of his poems.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »