Text of the Poem

(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.


  1. While “Spinner” may evoke the Greek Fates, Hardy likely alludes to the Christian God, an eternal and omnipotent being responsible for creating and preserving all things. Many Christians believe that God determines fate, thus making free will an illusion. Others believe that God bestowed free will upon humanity, but punishes them if they exercise their free will against his wishes. In “The Convergence of the Twain,” Hardy suggests that God seals the fate of the Titanic—thus making its demise inevitable—as punishment for the sin of pride and arrogance.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The adjective “august” means impressive, awesome, or inspiring of respect or reverence. Hardy characterizes the tragic “event” of the Titanic’s impact with the iceberg as being one that will be remembered and honored for many years to come.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The speaker here underscores the inevitability of the “intimate welding,” or the metaphorical wedding, of the Titanic and the iceberg by claiming that no mortal—meaning no one but God—was capable of foreseeing the tragedy.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. This stanza uses sibilance, or the repetition of words beginning with the letter “s” in order to generate a hissing sound when the words are read aloud. Sibilance creates a foreboding, sinister tone that foreshadows the Titanic’s fatal collision with the iceberg.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Hardy uses both personification and metaphor, a literary device comparing two different things by implying or stating that they are the same thing, in his portrayal of the Titanic and the iceberg. The Titanic is depicted as a bride, the iceberg is her “sinister mate,” and their eventual wedding is a metaphor for their collision.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. This line employs personification, the attribution of human emotions or qualities to nonhuman things. The personification of “moon-eyed fishes” asking about the “gilded” jewels extends the image from the previous stanza and underscores the arrogance, or “vaingloriousness,” of humans who believe themselves to be superior to nature.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. The repeated use of the conjunction “and” is an example of polysyndeton, or the repetition of conjunctions like “and,” “but,” and “or” in rapid succession. Polysyndeton reinforces the rhythm of the stanza while also highlighting the dramatic image of once-gleaming jewels lying at the bottom of the sea.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. This stanza contains alliteration, the repetition of consonants in succession in order to call attention to rhythm, word choice, or imagery. The repetition of the letter “b” in “bleared,” “black,” and “blind” highlights the stark contrast of the sparkling “jewels in joy” with their dull appearance at the bottom of the ocean. In this context, alliteration ultimately underscores the futility of luxury and status in the face of powerful natural forces.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. The adjective “opulent” means excessively luxurious or rich. Hardy creates a jarring contrast between the grandeur of the Titanic’s high-status passengers and image of the ship’s wreckage at the bottom of the ocean.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. The verb “to thrid” is an archaic spelling for “to thread,” which means to flow through something, as in a ship thridding / threading a current. Hardy contrasts the epic fires of the first two lines of this stanza with the sonic imagery of “cold currents” of water threading through the steel chambers as though they were playing an instrument.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. The adjective “salamandrine” compares the ship’s fires to a salamander, a lizard-like amphibian. Ancient folklore and mythology attributed occult qualities to the salamander, including immunity to or strong associations with fire. The speaker’s use of “salamandrine” indicates that the fires that used to burn in the steel chambers used to be massive on a mythological scale, but now are completely extinguished underwater.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. A “pyre” is a pile of combustible material that is usually used to burn a dead body during a funeral. Hardy’s use of the word refers to both the fires that would have heated the ship from within its steel chambers and the funerals of so many people after the tragedy.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. The speaker alludes to the RMS Titanic, a luxury British passenger liner that, despite allegedly being unsinkable, sank after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean in April 1912. More than 1,500 passengers and crew members perished. Outrage erupted when it was discovered that there were an insufficient number of lifeboats for the number of people aboard the Titanic. Further, crew members were not adequately trained for emergencies and the lifeboats were only filled to half capacity or less. Combined with other structural flaws, the voyage seemed doomed from the start. Hardy’s marked disdain for human hubris in “The Convergence of the Twain” reflects much of the public’s reaction to both the incompetence of the crew as well as the attempt to build an invincible ship in the first place.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  14. The phrase “Pride of Life” is an example of metonymy, or the substitution of the name of something for one of its qualities or attributes. “Pride of Life” represents humankind, particularly the “human vanity” that led to the construction of the Titanic. The speaker thus reveals an element of disdain for those whose hubris led them to believe they could build a ship capable of withstanding the forces of God and nature.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor