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Titanic Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Heroes of the "Titanic" by Henry Van Dyke
  2. The Heroic Dead by Alfred Noyes
  3. The "Titanic" by Katharine Lee Bates
  4. Wreck of the Titanic by Bernhart Paul Holst
  5. The Sinking of the Titanic by C. Victor Stahl
  6. In Memory of the Bandsmen, S. S. "Titanic" by Brooks Henderson
  7. The Titanic by Wilbur D. Nesbitt
  8. The Convergence of the Twain by Thomas Hardy
  9. The Titanic Disaster Poem by J. H. McKenzie
  10. The Iceberg by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

  1. Heroes of the "Titanic"

    by Henry van Dyke

    Honour the brave who sleep
    Where the lost "Titanic" lies,
    The men who knew what a man must do
    When he looks Death in the eyes.

    "Women and children first,"—
    Ah strong and tender cry!
    The sons whom women had borne and nursed,
    Remembered,—and dared to die.

    The boats crept off in the dark:
    The great ship groaned: and then,—
    O stars of the night, who saw that sight,
    Bear witness, These were men!

  2. The Heroic Dead

    by Alfred Noyes

    (On the loss of the Titanic)

    If in the noon they doubted, in the night
    They never swerved. Death had no power to appal.
    There was one Way, one Truth, one Life, one Light,
    One Love that shone triumphant over all.

    If in the noon they doubted, at the last
    There was no Way to part, no Way but One
    That rolled the waves of Nature back and cast
    In ancient days a shadow across the sun.

    If in the noon they doubted, their last breath
    Saluted once again the eternal goal,
    Chanted a love-song in the face of Death
    And rent the veil of darkness from the soul.

    If in the noon they doubted, in the night
    They waved the shadowy world of strife aside,
    Flooded high heaven with an immortal light,
    And taught the deep how its Creator died.

  3. The "Titanic"

    by Katharine Lee Bates

    As she sped from dawn to gloaming, a palace upon the sea,
    Did the waves from her proud bows foaming whisper what port should be?
    That her maiden voyage was tending to a haven hushed and deep,
    Where after the shock and the rending she should moor at the wharf of sleep?

    Oh, her name shall be tale and token to all the ships that sail,
    How her mighty heart was broken by blow of a crystal flail,
    How in majesty still peerless her helpless head she bowed
    And in light and music, fearless, plunged to her purple shroud.

    Did gleams and dreams half-heeded, while the days so lightly ran,
    Awaken the glory seeded from God in the soul of man?
    For touched with a shining chrism. with love's fine grace imbued.
    Men turned them to heroism as it were but habitude.

    O midnight strange and solemn, when the icebergs stood at gaze,
    Death on one pallid column, to watch our human ways,
    And saw throned Death defeated by a greater lord than he,
    Immortal Life who greeted home-comers from the sea.

  4. Wreck of the Titanic

    by Bernhart Paul Holst

    And thou, Atlantic, near Newfoundland's shore,
    What woe for humankind hast thou in store?
    From the sad wrecks that through the years are traced,
    As graveyard thou art known in ocean's waste!
    Though ships sail safely o'er the wildest sea,
    Thy fogs bewilder when they pass on thee;
    Thy storms rage high, and mighty breakers bound,
    And icebergs frequently sink them aground.

    The great Titanic, monarch of the sea—
    A world of power, as she sailed on thee—
    Her fires consumed their fuel with might and main,
    Her sailors plied their art high speed to gain,
    Her faithful officers relied on skill and steel,
    Her passengers did no unsafety feel—
    But on thy troubled face this ship, ahoy,
    Was struck and sunk as if she were a toy.

    At half past two, ere yet the cock had crowed,
    Began to sink the ship with crew and load.
    "Be British," said Captain Smith to all his crew,
    "Heed well the rules, which all true men must do."
    Then wireless messages were quickly sent
    And danger rockets the still night-air rent.
    Will help yet come, is succor near at hand?
    Will only one-third live to reach the land?

    Sixteen hundred souls were dying fast,
    They knew their doom, there was no help at last—
    The timid swooned and shrieked, the brave stood still,
    And some leaped off to die with iron will—
    But, when she sunk, a thousand shrieks were rushed
    Above the sea and waves, but soon all hushed,
    Except a straggling few who still hung on,
    And then the ship and crew and all were gone!

    What right has man to build a ship like this
    And let the life-preserving be amiss?
    What worth has life since it has come to pass
    That ships speed rapidly where icebergs mass?
    On board were stores of coin and gems and wealth,
    Music and laughter, skill and rustic health,
    But, oh! for the souls that went to their doom
    In contest for life at their watery tomb!

  5. The Sinking of the Titanic

    by C. Victor Stahl

    Oh, Titan was her gorgeous armament
    And Titan was her sail and crew;
    A thing of pride to sweep the surging tide
    And laugh to scorn the perilous blue.
    Yet let us weep not for her treasured hulk
    That sank leagues deep into the sea,
    But for the toll of ill-starred voyagers
    Who rode her to eternity.

    I see the glory of that primal hour
    When first her beams did breast the wave,—
    Yea, owner, builder, seaman's eyes did sparkle
    As did the sea her huge side lave:—
    How zealously the elite madly rushed
    To trust their passage in her care.
    To boast their presence on the maiden trip
    Of that leviathan so rare.

    She sailed.—The sky gleamed bright andazure clear.
    The waves lashed gently at her side.
    The moon that night shone down auspiciously
    Upon that ship of gorgeous pride.
    Her engines tore in frenzy o'er and o'er.
    Her powerful shafts did heave and quake.
    As loud and clear her captain's voice rang out,
    "Speed on! Fear not the iceberg's brake."

    Ahead there floundered in the chilly sea
    A huge and bristling wall of ice.
    "What shall we do? "her helmsman tremulously cried.
    Word came, "Let's cleave it in a trice,"
    Whereat the mighty engines creaked and strained
    And madly sped the Titan hulk.
    Ne'er moved nor stirred the ocean's icy berg,
    But braced against her speeding bulk.

    "Dost thou defy me, master of the sea,
    Thou untried artifice of man?
    I'll show thee, then, whose is the stronger hand,
    For mine was here e'er thine began."
    Crash! Crash! The waters rushed. The ship's side heaved.
    The ponderous engines ceased to throb,
    And there above the darkening drawbridge cried
    A thousand souls in fear to God.

    From peaceful slumbers wildly they uprose,
    From games of whist, from dance and wine.
    "Can it be so?" they cried in anguished pride—
    "So sinking in the icy brine?"
    But ah! alas! the hand of death hung o'er.
    Alas for captain, ship and crew!
    In headstrong haste they'd left the boats behind
    That save men from the watery blue.

    "Let there be women saved, and they alone!"
    Rose up like steel the chivalrous cry,
    While gallant men stood on the slippery deck
    And brave resolved themselves to die.
    Then solemn strains rose from the engulfing main,
    "Nearer my God," they sang, "to Thee,"
    Till all that was left of the Titan's envied hulk
    Was a billowy gurgle in the sea.

    Alas for man! Alas for vaunting boast!
    Which seeks to conquer the fate of the sea,
    Essays to raise proud hulks of iron and steel
    And laugh to scorn God's mastery!
    Thus from their watery grave he lifts his voice;
    "None tempt my power by craft malign.
    Lo! all shall cleave unto the common end,
    And none shall stand but I, divine!"

  6. In Memory of the Bandsmen, S. S. "Titanic"

    by Brooks Henderson

    Lord, when Thou touchest Lyra's seven
    Impatient chords, and on his keys
    Fashions the organist of Heaven
    High monochord with Thee and these:

    If archangelic eyes return
    No answer to angelic gaze
    While angels and archangels yearn
    To Thee, the Music of All Days:

    Bid Thy seraphic choirs rest
    Their plectrums on their psalteries
    And learn of these Thou hast confessed
    Thy deathless Bandsmen of the Seas.

    Bid Thine angelic trumpeters
    Restrain their trumpets' golden throats
    While "Autumn" echoes with the Spheres
    And songs wherewith they cheered the boats

    Bid Thine exalted cherubim
    Know also this, Thy new renown,
    One with Thy praise that cannot dim
    Throughout the years though all things drown.

    That shall not die though bitter death
    Should fall on all men like the sea,
    Song of Thy song, breath of Thy breath,
    Now and eternally.

    And when Thou touchest Lyra's seven
    Impatient chords, bid on his keys
    Fashion the organist of Heaven
    High monochord with Thee and these.

  7. The Titanic

    by Wilbur D. Nesbitt

    Now, this was the work of the hand of man, the dream of a prideful brain,
    That the wrath that sleeps in the rolling deep might waken to strength in vain.
    We builded a ship that was one of might, we builded it stanch and strong;
    We forged its keel to its ribs of steel, we fashioned it wide and long;
    We said there was naught that might humble it, no power in sea or sky—
    And it broke as a crumb 'twixt finger and thumb when the ocean made reply.

    There were long, long decks where the gay folk strolled; the wake was a white, white foam;
    And the jewels gleamed and the people dreamed of the strength that bare them home.
    There were billows high that the bow cleft fair and as scornfully tossed aside;
    For the ship was great and it hastened straight, with no halting for wind or tide.
    We said there was naught that might bid it pause, no power in wind or wave—
    But an echoing surge is the only dirge that is murmured above its grave.

    Now, the sea is deep and the sea is strange and is jealous of all men do;
    And it takes its toll as its billows roll, and it answers with wreck and rue.
    It has been unchained since the birth of time, and it palsies the hand of man
    Though he work in pride and with faith beside in his cunning toil and plan.
    We said of the ship it would keep its course, and mock at the sky and sea
    Then a swift-caught breath, and the call of death in a mocking and strident key.

    Now, this was the work of the hand of man—a mighty and wondrous thing—
    And we told the sea it no more might be over man and his works the king.
    We made it as strong as a hundred ships that threaded the seas of yore—
    And it lies today where the long swells play through the wrecks on the ocean's floor.
    We said there was naught that might humble it, no power in sea or sky—
    And it broke as a crumb 'twixt finger and thumb when the ocean made reply.

  8. The Convergence of the Twain

    by Thomas Hardy

    (Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")

    In a solitude of the sea
    Deep from human vanity,
    And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

    Steel chambers, late the pyres
    Of her salamandrine fires,
    Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

    Over the mirrors meant
    To glass the opulent
    The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

    Jewels in joy designed
    To ravish the sensuous mind
    Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

    Dim moon-eyed fishes near
    Gaze at the gilded gear
    And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?" ...

    Well: while was fashioning
    This creature of cleaving wing,
    The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything

    Prepared a sinister mate
    For her—so gaily great—
    A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.

    And as the smart ship grew
    In stature, grace, and hue,
    In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

    Alien they seemed to be;
    No mortal eye could see
    The intimate welding of their later history,

    Or sign that they were bent
    By paths coincident
    On being anon twin halves of one august event,

    Till the Spinner of the Years
    Said "Now!" And each one hears,
    And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.

  9. The Titanic Disaster Poem

    by J. H. McKenzie

    On the cold and dark Atlantic,
    The night was growing late
    Steamed the maiden ship Titanic
    Crowded with human freight
    She was valued at Ten Million,
    The grandest ever roamed the seas,
    Fitted complete to swim the ocean
    When the roll in or billows freeze.

    She bade farewell to England
    All dressed in robes of white
    Going out to plow the briny deep,
    And was on her western flight;
    She was now so swiftly gliding
    In L Fifty and Fourteen
    When the watchman viewed the monster
    Just a mile from it, 'Twas seen.

    Warned by a German vessel
    Of an enemy just ahead
    Of an Iceberg, that sea monster,
    That which the seamen dread.
    On steamed this great Titanic:
    She was in her swiftest flight;
    She was trying to break the record,
    On that fearful, fearful night.

    Oh; she was plowing the Ocean
    For speed not known before,
    But alas, she struck asunder
    To last for ever more,
    A wireless message began to spread
    Thoughout the mighty deep, it said,
    "We have struck an iceberg, being delayed;
    Please rush to us with aid."

    The Captain, of the White Star Line,
    Who stood there in command,
    Was an Admiral of seasoned mind
    Enroute to the western land.
    The Captain thought not of his life
    But stood there to the last
    And swimming saved a little child
    As it came floating past.

    Outstretched hands offered reward
    For his brave and heroic deed
    But the intrepid man went down aboard
    Trying to rescue a passenger instead
    This ill-starred giant of the sea
    Was carried to his grave
    On the last and greatest ship, was he,
    That ever cleft a wave.

    Gay was the crew aboard this ship,
    Passengers large and small;
    They viewed the coming danger,
    They felt it one and all.
    On played the grand Orchestra
    Their notes were soft and clear;
    They realized God's power on land
    On sea 'twas just as near.

    So they played this glorious anthem
    Continued on the sea
    And repeated the beautiful chorus
    "Nearer My God To Thee."
    Then silenced when the ship went down
    Their notes were heard no more.
    Surely they'll wear a starry crown
    On that Celestial Shore.

    Colonel Astor, a millionaire,
    Scholarly and profound,
    Said to his wife, "I'll meet you dear
    Tomorrow in York Town."
    His bride asked a seaman true
    "Oh say! may husband go;"
    The echo came upon the blue
    He answered, "He may, you know."

    This man rushed not to his seat
    He seem to have no fear,
    Being calm, serene and discreet
    Tendered it to a lady near,
    Oh go, he said, my darling wife
    Please be not in despair,
    Be of good cheer, as sure as life,
    I'll meet you over there."

    Well could lie have known this dreadful night
    The sea would be his grave
    Though he worked with all his might
    For those whom he could save.
    This man a soldier once has been
    Of military art,
    Proved himself full competent then
    To do his noble part.

    Major Butt, well known to fame
    A lady did entreat,
    To kindly name him to his friends
    Whom she perchance to meet.
    He forced the men to realize
    The weaker they should save;
    He gave his life with no surprise
    To the sea—a watery grave;
    And with a smile upon his face
    He turned to meet his fate,
    Soon, poon the sea would be his grave
    In and ever after date.

    And Strauss, who did the children feed,
    Had mercy on the poor,
    And all such men the world doth need
    To reverence evermore.
    Oil, may the union of Strauss and wife
    Be memorial to all men,
    Each for the other gave their life,
    A life we should commend;
    And may all girls who chance in life
    To read this poem thru
    Emulate the deed of such a wife,
    As went down in the blue.

    Down, down goes the great Titanic
    With faster and faster speed
    Until Alas! there comes a burst
    She bade farewell indeed
    Farewell, farewell to land and seas,
    Farewell to wharves and shore,
    For I must land beneath the breeze
    To reach the land no more
    I carry with me more human weight
    Than ever recorded before
    To leave them on a land sedate
    Ihey will land, Oh! land no more.

    Only a few you see,
    May tell the story
    Of this great calamity;
    Husbands, Wives, perhaps in glory
    View the sad catastrophe.
    The Caparthia eastern bound
    For the Mediterranean sea,
    Turned to the mighty sound,
    The wireless C. Q. D.

    Quick was the preparation made,
    To warn the unfortunate few,
    For the homeless was cold and delayed
    Being chilled by the wind as it blew.
    So to the youth
    Through life has started,
    Be ever thoughtful and true,
    Stay by the truth, be not departed
    Success shall come to you
    Oh, may you shun the Iceberg,
    By the dreadful work wafe wrought,
    And prosper by the lesson
    This mighty ship has taught.

  10. The Iceberg

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    I was spawned from the glacier,
    A thousand miles due north
    Beyond Cape Chidley;
    And the spawning,
    When my vast, wallowing bulk went under,
    Emerged and heaved aloft,
    Shaking down cataracts from its rocking sides,
    With mountainous surge and thunder
    Outraged the silence of the Arctic sea.

    Before I was thrust forth
    A thousand years I crept,
    Crawling, crawling, crawling irresistibly,
    Hid in the blue womb of the eternal ice,
    While under me the tortured rock
    And over me the immeasurable desolation slept.

    Under the pallid dawning
    Of the lidless Arctic day
    Forever no life stirred.
    No wing of bird —
    Of ghostly owl low winnowing
    Or fleet-winged ptarmigan fleeing the pounce of death, —
    No foot of backward-glancing fox
    Half glimpsed, and vanishing like a breath, —
    No lean and gauntly stalking bear,
    Stalking his prey.
    Only the white sun, circling the white sky.
    Only the wind screaming perpetually.

    And then the night —
    The long night, naked, high over the roof of the world,
    Where time seemed frozen in the cold of space, —
    Now black, and torn with cry
    Of unseen voices where the storm raged by,
    Now radiant with spectral light
    As the vault of heaven split wide
    To let the flaming Polar cohorts through,
    And close ranked spears of gold and blue,
    Thin scarlet and thin green,
    Hurtled and clashed across the sphere
    And hissed in sibilant whisperings,
    And died.
    And then the stark moon, swinging low,
    Silver, indifferent, serene,
    Over the sheeted snow.

    But now, an Alp afloat,
    In seizure of the surreptitious tide,
    Began my long drift south to a remote
    And unimagined doom.
    Scornful of storm,
    Unjarred by thunderous buffetting of seas,
    Shearing the giant floes aside,
    Ploughing the wide-flung ice-fields in a spume
    That smoked far up my ponderous flanks,
    Onward I fared,
    My ice-blue pinnacles rendering back the sun
    In darts of sharp radiance;
    My bases fathoms deep in the dark profound.

    And now around me
    Life and the frigid waters all aswarm.
    The smooth wave creamed
    With tiny capelin and the small pale squid, — So pale the light struck through them.
    Gulls and gannets screamed
    Over the feast, and gorged themselves, and rose,
    A clamour of weaving wings, and hid
    Momently my face.
    The great bull whales
    With cavernous jaws agape,
    Scooped in the spoil, and slept,
    Their humped forms just awash, and rocking softly, —
    Or sounded down, down to the deeps, and nosed
    Along my ribbed and sunken roots,
    And in the green gloom scattered the pasturing cod.

    And so I voyaged on, down the dim parallels,
    Convoyed by fields
    Of countless calving seals
    Mild-featured, innocent-eyed, and unforeknowing
    The doom of the red flenching knives.
    I passed the storm-racked gate
    Of Hudson Strait,
    And savage Chidley where the warring tides
    In white wrath seethe forever.
    Down along the sounding shore
    Of iron-fanged, many-watered Labrador
    Slow weeks I shaped my course, and saw
    Dark Mokkowic and dark Napiskawa,
    And came at last off lone Belle Isle, the bane
    Of ships and snare of bergs.
    Here, by the deep conflicting currents drawn,
    I hung,
    And swung,
    The inland voices Gulfward calling me
    To ground amid my peers on the alien strand
    And roam no more.
    But then an off-shore wind,
    A great wind fraught with fate,
    Caught me and pressed me back,
    And I resumed my solitary way.

    Slowly I bore
    South-east by bastioned Bauld,
    And passed the sentinel light far-beaming late
    Along the liners' track,
    And slanted out Atlanticwards, until
    Above the treacherous swaths of fog
    Faded from the view the loom of Newfoundland.

    Beautiful, ethereal
    In the blue sparkle of the gleaming day,
    A soaring miracle
    Of white immensity,
    I was the cynosure of passing ships
    That wondered and were gone,
    Their wreathed smoke trailing them beyonf the verge.
    And when in the night they passed —
    The night of stars and calm,
    Forged up and passed, with churning surge
    And throb of huge propellers, and long-drawn
    Luminous wake behind,
    And sharp, small lights in rows,
    I lay a ghost of menace chill and still,
    A shape pearl-pale and monstrous, off to leeward,
    Blurring the thin horizon line.

    Day dragged on day,
    And then came fog,
    By noon, blind-white,
    And in the night
    Black-thick and smothering the sight.
    Folded therein I waited,
    Waited I knew not what
    And heeded not,
    Greatly incurious and unconcerned.
    I heard the small waves lapping along my base,
    Lipping and whispering, lisping with bated breath
    A casual expectancy of death.
    I heard remote
    The deep, far carrying note
    Blown from the hoarse and hollow throat
    Of some lone tanker groping on her course.
    Louder and louder rose the sound
    In deepening diapason, then passed on,
    Diminishing, and dying, —
    And silence closed around.
    And in the silence came again
    Those stealthy voices,
    That whispering of death.

    And then I heard
    The thud of screws approaching.
    Near and more near,
    Louder and yet more loud,
    Through the thick dark I heard it, —
    The rush and hiss of waters as she ploughed
    Head on, unseen, unseeing,
    Toward where I stood across her path, invisible.
    And then a startled blare
    Of horror close re-echoing, — a glare
    Of sudden, stabbing searchlights
    That but obscurely pierced the gloom;
    And there
    I towered, a dim immensity of doom.

    A roar
    Of tortured waters as the giant screws,
    Reversed, thundered full steam astern.
    Yet forward still she drew, until,
    Slow answering desperate helm,
    She swerved, and all her broadside came in view,
    Crawling beneath me;
    And for a moment I saw faces, blanched,
    Stiffly agape, turned upward, and wild eyes
    Astare; and one long, quavering cry went up
    As a submerged horn gored her through and through,
    Ripping her beam wide open;
    And sullenly she listed, till her funnels
    Crashed on my steep,
    And men sprang, stumbling, for the boats.

    But now, my deep foundations
    Mined by those warmer seas, the hour had come
    When I must change.
    Slowly I leaned above her,
    Slowly at first, then faster,
    And icy fragments rained upon her decks.
    Then my enormous mass descended on her,
    A falling mountain, all obliterating, —
    And the confusion of thin, wailing cries,
    The Babel of shouts and prayers
    And shriek of steam escaping
    Suddenly died.
    And I rolled over,
    And once more came to rest,
    My long hid bases heaved up high in air.

    And now, from fogs emerging,
    I traversed blander seas,
    Forgot the fogs, the scourging
    Of sleet-whipped gales, forgot
    My austere origin, my tremendous birth,
    My journeyings, and that last cataclysm
    Of overwhelming ruin.
    My squat, pale, alien bulk
    Basked in the ambient sheen;
    And all about me, league on league outspread,
    A gulf of indigo and green.
    I laughed in the light waves laced with white, —
    Nor knew
    How swiftly shrank my girth
    Under their sly caresses, how the breath
    Of that soft wind sucked up my strength, nor how
    The sweet, insidious fingers of the sun
    Their stealthy depredations wrought upon me.

    Slowly now
    I drifted, dreaming.
    I saw the flying-fish
    With silver gleaming
    Flash from the peacock-bosomed wave
    And flicker through an arc of sunlit air
    Back to their element, desperate to elude
    The jaws of the pursuing albacore.

    Day after day
    I swung in the unhasting tide.
    Sometimes I saw the dolphin folk at play,
    Their lithe sides iridescent-dyed,
    Unheeding in their speed
    That long grey wraith,
    The shark that followed hungering beneath.
    Sometimes I saw a school
    Of porpoise rolling by
    In ranked array,
    Emerging and submerging rhythmically,
    Their blunt black bodies heading all one way
    Until they faded
    In the horizon's dazzling line of light.
    Night after night
    I followed the low, large moon across the sky,
    Or counted the large stars on the purple dark,
    The while I wasted, wasted and took no thought,
    In drowsed entrancement caught; —
    Until one noon a wave washed over me,
    Breathed low a sobbing sigh,
    Foamed indolently, and passed on;
    And then I knew my empery was gone;
    As I, too, soon must go.
    Nor was I ill content to have it so.

    Another night
    Gloomed o'er my sight,
    With cloud, and flurries of warm, wild rain.
    Another day,
    Dawning delectably
    With amber and scarlet stain,
    Swept on its way,
    Glowing and shimmering with heavy heat.
    A lazing tuna rose
    And nosed me curiously,
    And shouldered me aside in brusque disdain,
    So had I fallen from my high estate.
    A foraging gull
    Stooped over me, touched me with webbed pink feet,
    And wheeled and skreeled away,
    Indignant at the chill.

    Last I became
    A little glancing globe of cold
    That slid and sparkled on the slow-pulsed swell.
    And then my fragile, scintillating frame
    Dissolved in ecstasy
    Of many coloured light,
    And I breathed up my soul into the air
    And merged forever in the all-solvent sea.

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