Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday Poetry: "The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the Loss of the 'Titanic')"

Two Thomas Hardy poems in a row, but consider last week as an introduction to this one. Thomas Hardy wrote this particular poem upon learning about the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic because of its famous iceberg collision on 14 April 1912. On the 98th anniversary of the Titanic catastrophe, I felt that this poem had a particular resonance and ought to be shared.

"The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the Loss of the 'Titanic')," by Thomas Hardy
I. In a solitude of the sea,
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.
II. Steel chambers, late the pyres,
Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents third, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.
III. Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls--grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.
IV. Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.
V. Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: 'What does this vaingloriousness down here?'...
VI. Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything
VII. Prepared a sinister mate
For her--so gaily great--
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.
VIII. And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
IX. Alien they seemed to be:
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,
X. Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,
XI. Till the Spinner of the Years
Said 'Now!' And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.


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