Many times in life events occur which stimulate many opinions. In a painting by Picasso, one way see beauty while another sees a squiggle of lines. Two people see a movie and one is moved to tears while the other is bored stiff. People are often moved in different ways by similar experiences. This would explain the tremendous difference in theme of two poets about the tragedy of the Titanic. Thomas Hardys’ “Convergence of the Twain” and David R. Slavitts’ “Titanic” offer two opposing views of the same experience.
Slavitt’s “Titanic” interprets the sinking of the Titanic not as a tragedy but as a joy. He asks the question “Who does not love the Titanic?” This is very true. Who has not heard of its incredible mass and beauty. Everything about the Titanic has titanic proportions. What a splendid time those people were having on their cruise. Who, if given the opportunity, would partake knowing the catastrophic outcome that awaits? David R. Slavitt would. For him to relive the awe of cruising in the largest ship in the world with thousands of other people having the time of their lives would be impressive. For him to go out in glory and magnificence would be worthwhile. After all, “We all go: only a few, first class.”
I very much agree with Slavitt. To think of a better way to go is quite difficult. One minute your living life then shortly and painlessly you go into the after life knowing you spent your last hours on top of the world. It’s special that this poet took such a tragic event and put an optimistic twist into it. Before reading this poem I never considered the flip side of this seemingly tragic event. The simple title “Titanic” speaks much about how Slavitt felt about the entire saga. “Titanic” is fitting since he speaks of this event in such large proportions. He wrote this poem in open form. There is no rhyme or alliteration or assonance. It is as if Slavitt is merely speaking to his audience. He speaks as though he possesses a wisdom from the graves of those who passed. This perspective is in opposition to the view of the Titanic taken by Thomas Hardy.
Much unlike Slavitt; Thomas Hardy, in his “Convergence of the Twain”, interprets the Titanic tragedy as a vain, somber, sudden event. In many ways the Titanic could be viewed as vain. The fancied up ship and fancied up people all rest at the bottom of the sea. This is where they lie all because of vanity. But where is the vanity now? The beauty which once was now “sparkles bleared and black and blind.” What a somber and lonely place to be at the bottom of the sea. The cold, murky water surrounding you in silence. Now the Titanic and all it’s glory rest at the ocean floor swimming with fish who ponder it’s “vangloriousness”. All of this happened in an instant; an instant in which “twin halves” (the iceberg and Titanic) converge. Suddenly, “consumption comes”.
I also agree with Hardy on his perspective of this event. Although his opinion is quite depressing, it still speaks truth about the event. Hardy uses a closed form of poetry in presenting his idea. By using a mixture of rhyme and alliteration he feeds the feeling of a dull repetition. At least I believe this was his intent. He has organized his poem in an exceptional manner. In all there are eleven sets of three lines. Each set has a common ending rhyme. As well as rhyming, the sets all correspond to the hours on a clock. The final set ends as the iceberg and ship collide. The final hour, midnight is left out for us to assume that it marks the end: death. Also, the last line ends abruptly symbolizing a blunt conclusion to lives of the people aboard the ship. This poem is elaborately centered around the idea of death and the cold that exists around this tragic event. Hardy weaves vanity, somberness, and sudden ending into a complete metaphor of the emptiness left by the legend of Titanic.
Although both poets took on such different opinions, they both speak truths about this