'Lines On The Loss Of The "Titanic"' by Thomas Hardy

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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.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Lines On The Loss Of The "Titanic" by Thomas Hardy


On the 15th of April 1912, the world woke up to the devastating news of the sinking of the Titanic. The ship, which was considered unsinkable, had collided with an iceberg and sunk, with over 1,500 people losing their lives. In response to this tragedy, Thomas Hardy, a renowned poet, wrote a poem titled "Lines On The Loss Of The Titanic." In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will delve into the meaning and significance of this classic poem.


Before we dive into the poem, it is important to understand the context in which it was written. The Titanic was a symbol of human achievement and progress. It was the largest and most luxurious ship of its time, and its sinking was considered an unthinkable tragedy. The loss of life was not only significant but also deeply felt by people around the world. Thomas Hardy, who was already an acclaimed poet at the time, was moved by this event and decided to write a poem in tribute to the victims.


The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with eight lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the poem and establishes the context of the tragedy. Hardy uses imagery to describe the ship as a "floating palace," with its grandeur and luxury being emphasized through words like "splendour" and "majesty." However, this is juxtaposed with the harsh reality of the ship's fate, as it is described as being "doomed." The use of the word "doomed" here is significant, as it suggests that the ship's fate was predetermined, and there was little that could be done to prevent it.

The second stanza focuses on the aftermath of the tragedy. Hardy uses the metaphor of "the wail of a world's lament" to describe the collective grief felt by people around the world. The use of the word "wail" here is particularly powerful, as it suggests a deep and profound sadness. The line "the anguish of a million hearts" further emphasizes the magnitude of the tragedy and the impact it had on people.

In the third stanza, Hardy shifts the focus to the victims of the tragedy. He describes them as being "ghostly" and "pale," suggesting that they are no longer alive. The line "their cries have melted into the waves" is particularly poignant, as it suggests that their voices and pleas for help were lost in the vastness of the ocean. The use of the word "melted" here is significant, as it suggests a sense of finality and irreversibility.

The final stanza provides a sense of closure to the poem. Hardy describes the Titanic as being "a dream gone by," suggesting that the ship and all that it represented are now a thing of the past. However, he also acknowledges the significance of the tragedy, stating that it "has marked a date in history." The use of the word "marked" here is significant, as it suggests that the tragedy had a profound and lasting impact on the world.


One of the primary themes of the poem is the fragility of human achievement. The Titanic was considered an unsinkable ship, but its fate demonstrated that even the most advanced technology and engineering are still subject to the whims of nature. The poem also highlights the theme of loss and grief, as it describes the collective sadness felt by people around the world in response to the tragedy. Finally, the poem touches on the theme of history, as it suggests that the sinking of the Titanic was a significant event that will be remembered for generations to come.


In conclusion, "Lines On The Loss Of The Titanic" is a powerful and poignant poem that captures the magnitude of the tragedy and the collective grief felt by people around the world. Through his use of imagery and metaphor, Thomas Hardy succeeds in conveying the fragility of human achievement and the profound impact of the tragedy on history. This poem serves as a reminder of the importance of humility and respect for the power of nature, and the need to cherish and appreciate the fleeting beauty of life.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Lines On The Loss Of The "Titanic" by Thomas Hardy is a classic poem that captures the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The poem is a powerful expression of grief and loss, and it has become one of the most iconic works of literature about the disaster. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of the poem to understand its significance and impact.

The poem is structured in four stanzas, each with four lines. The first stanza sets the scene and describes the Titanic as a "ship of dreams" that was "majestic in splendor." The second stanza introduces the tragedy, as the ship strikes an iceberg and begins to sink. The third stanza describes the chaos and panic on board, as passengers and crew struggle to save themselves. The final stanza is a lament for the lives lost, as the ship sinks beneath the waves.

The structure of the poem is simple and effective, with each stanza building on the previous one to create a sense of tension and emotion. The use of four-line stanzas gives the poem a sense of rhythm and balance, while the repetition of certain phrases, such as "ship of dreams" and "sank beneath the waves," creates a sense of unity and coherence.

The language of the poem is rich and evocative, with vivid imagery and powerful metaphors. The use of the phrase "ship of dreams" in the first stanza is particularly effective, as it captures the sense of wonder and excitement that surrounded the Titanic before its tragic end. The metaphor of the ship as a "giant in strength" in the second stanza is also powerful, as it emphasizes the enormity of the disaster and the helplessness of those on board.

The third stanza is perhaps the most intense and emotional, as it describes the chaos and panic on board the sinking ship. The use of phrases such as "wild despair" and "death-fires danced at night" creates a sense of horror and desperation, while the repetition of the phrase "women and children first" emphasizes the bravery and sacrifice of those who tried to save others.

The final stanza is a poignant lament for the lives lost in the disaster. The use of the phrase "the unsinkable sank" is particularly effective, as it captures the sense of disbelief and shock that followed the sinking of the supposedly invincible ship. The final lines of the poem, "And the band played on" are a haunting reminder of the musicians who continued to play as the ship went down, sacrificing their own lives to bring comfort to others.

The themes of the poem are universal and timeless, and they continue to resonate with readers today. The poem explores the fragility of human life and the power of nature, as well as the heroism and sacrifice of those who tried to save others. It also raises questions about the role of technology and progress in society, and the dangers of overconfidence and hubris.

Overall, Lines On The Loss Of The "Titanic" is a powerful and moving poem that captures the tragedy and loss of one of the most iconic disasters in history. The poem's structure, language, and themes all contribute to its enduring impact and significance, and it remains a testament to the human spirit in the face of adversity.

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