“When I put out to sea…”

[grandpa’s self portrait of him on The Razor” – oil on canvas.]

Today on the way to celebrate a fellow Peace Fellow’s birthday at Hemingway’s, a bar and restaurant in Bangkok, we started talking about our favorite books. I recalled that Ernest Hemingway‘s A Farewell to Arms was the first piece of literature that I read and actually “got.” I appreciated the literary techniques, and the deeper message beyond the simple story. I reflect on the impact of all of my English classes through the years, and the poignant moments when literature and poetry provided for me a liminal space, where writers could transcend time and space and speak to me in a way my contemporary friends couldn’t.

I was introduced to one of my favorite poems in the spring of senior year of high school in AP English class. This was a difficult time for my family as my grandfather (the one who named me EmaBee) braved and succumbed to systemic cancer. It was only after his death that I learned about this poem in class. I have always wished I’d only learned it a few months earlier so I could have read it at his funeral, because it is so clearly represents what I see in my mind as his end times. I remember today the feeling in my chest when I first read it as if he was speaking to me from the grave. I think that’s the point.


By: Alfred Lord Tennyson (1889)

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 tho’ 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.


August 6, 2014 – Happy Birthday Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Sailing on Mill Creek with friends in 2012

Sailing on Mill Creek with friends in 2012


One response to ““When I put out to sea…”

  1. Pingback: Annapolis Autumn Flower Portriats | EmaBee's Art·

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