The Convergence of the Twain
The co-existence of human life encompasses contrasts between such factors as human vanity and man-kind hubris as well as materialism. This phenomenon is always articulated into poems by poets as a means of enlightening people on the importance of controlling these emotions that can lead to human destruction. The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the Loss of the “Titanic”) is one such poem published in 1915 after the tragedy of the Titanic in 1912 as a form of warning people against embracing vanity and materialism as these culminate into destruction (Hardy, 2006). The underlying message behind the poem is symbolized by the relationship that existed between the Titanic and the iceberg that did not encompass any positivity but culminated into a tragedy. Although the simplified meaning of the poem points to the Titanic tragedy, the deeper meaning of the poem satirizes materialism, human vanity and pride, as well as the beauty and integrity of nature.
The speaker in the poem is a person who loathes the pride associated with wealth and power. This is brought out in the poem where he describes the beauty of the ship enhanced by the amount of wealth and technology employed into its building, which was destroyed by the beautiful forces of nature (Armstrong, 2000). This satirizes the consequences of articulating pride due to the amount of wealth and power that one has. It is possible to determine the speaker’s age, sex, sensibilities, level of awareness and values. The poem was published in 1915, which is a clear indication that he was born before that time and was a grown-up at the time of the tragedy as he provides a vivid description of the tragedy, a feat that could only be accomplished after the observation of a grown-up.
His sex has to be male because instead of focusing on the loss attained from the tragedy emotionally, he focuses on the satirized meaning of the tragedy. Female poets are known to be more emotional. His level of awareness and sensibilities are showcased by the vivid description of the tragedy. Lastly, his values depend on the satirized meaning behind the poem (Moore & Childs, 2004). The poet might be addressing Britain and all people of the earth in general because he is warning against materialism as it spells to vanity. He can be said to be addressing Britain because it had built Titanic not for the reason of cruising on the sea, but for the reason of showcasing their power and wealth. This was however translated to vanity with the destruction of the ship. This is also meant to be a warning to the people of the other nations from exhibiting pride as pride comes before a fall.
I would respond to the speaker favorably because the message he tries to bring-out in the poem holds more sense in the current world as many situations that occur today point to the importance of the message. The situation in the poem is a clear indication of the vanity attached to wealth, power and pride. The circumstances that inform of what the speaker is saying are the collision of the ship with the iceberg and the sinking of the ship though it had been constructed with the employment of a lot of wealth and technological innovations. The poem indicates a particular time and place. The place is indicated by the first line of the first stanza which says “In a solitude of the sea” showing that the place was the sea (Hardy, 2006). The specific time is indicated by, “On being anon twin halves of one August event.” This means the event took place in one August before the publishing of the poem in 1915 (Hardy, 2006).
The title emphasizes on the meeting of the ship and the iceberg. The theme portrayed by the poem is that of the vanity of wealth and power, which is not presented directly but presented in a satirical manner through the employment of the symbolic meaning of the Titanic tragedy. The allusions used in the poem include the “The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.” This is an indication of the worms that will consume the people after their burial (Hardy, 2006). “Dim moon-eyed fishes near, Gaze at the gilded gear”, is an allusion indicating the sinking of the ship as the fish are found on the ocean floor. “And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres”, is an allusion of the crash that occurred between the ship and the iceberg (Hardy, 2006). The language used or diction aids in revealing the meaning that pride, wealth and power are all vanity as the ship sunk though it exhibited pride, power and wealth. The word ‘and’ is repeated many times in the poem as a means of emphasizing on particular points, which is a clear indication of their evocative connotative meaning.
Different figures of speech are utilized in the poem. These include rhythm, diction alliteration, assonance, consonance, rhymes and meter. The use of rhythm, rhymes, assonance and consonance enhances the vividness of the situation that the poet is trying to bring-out in the poem. The use of irony, satire and symbolism enhance the meaning of the poem as the poem points to the vanity of wealth and power. The symbolic meaning of the destruction of the ship though it incorporated beauty attained from power and wealth is the destruction that is attained due to power, wealth and pride. Irony is brought out in the poem by, “The intimate welding of their later history.” This is ironic because an intimate welding is not meant to result into a disaster like the disaster that the wielding between the ship and the iceberg resulted into (Hardy, 2006). This is an example of a situational irony.
The understatement used in the poem can be found in “And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.” Conversely, paradox is found in, “Jewels in joy designed, to ravish the sensuous mind, Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind” (Hardy, 2006). This means that the jewels lost their glamour. The poem encompasses a hard tone that is consistent throughout the poem. Alliteration is used in, “their sparkles bleared and black and blind”, as a means of emphasizing on the tone of the poem (Hardy, 2006). This is an indication of the fact that the poem is bent on bringing-out the truth no matter what. The use of alliteration helps me to understand the tone of the poem. Each stanza incorporates the triple repetition of sounds at the end of each line, which pin-points to rhyme that is used to bestow the poem with musicality.
The poem has a regular meter that is composed of three lines in every stanza. It is so enjoyable because of its simplicity and because it has a deeper meaning, which is a clear message to humankind. What pleased me in the poem is the fact that the message that the poet wanted to bring-out was brought out in an articulate manner as the Titanic tragedy was the best choice of an event that could symbolize the meaning of the poet (Moore & Childs, 2004). Interpreting the poem without any historical information would be difficult because one would not easily understand what the poem stood for as it is not a clear void of prior information. My interpretation of the poem is enhanced by the belief that pride comes before a fall, which I have acquired through the life experiences that I have gone through. The historical information about the poet enlightens on the fact that the poet was against the British showcasing of power and wealth, which was vanity. This enhances the concerns that he brings out in the poem.
The nature of human-kind is such that they attach worth and pride into power and wealth. This is however vanity because that power and wealth can be lost at the click of a minute. Some people may not be aware of this thus avenues should be identified towards enlightening the human-kind on the vanity of attaching pride into wealth and power (Armstrong, 2000). This enlightenment has been conversely attached to the poem The Convergence of the Twain (Lines on the loss of the “Titanic”), which was published in 1915. The poet tried to warn Britain that the power they showcased through Titanic was vanity because it was destroyed easily by the forces of nature. This is a clear indication that the most important thing in this world is the belief in the power of God because He is the center of the earth. The Titanic might have been destroyed by God to show people that he was the author of all wealth and he could take it away if pleased to do so. In conclusion, though the simplified meaning of the poem points to the Titanic tragedy, the deeper meaning of the poem satirizes materialism, human vanity and pride, as well as the beauty and integrity of nature.
Armstrong, Tim. Haunted Hardy: Poetry, History, Memory. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000. Print.
Hardy, Thomas. The Convergence of the Twain: (Lines on the Loss of the Titanic). Dundas: Aliquando Press, 2006. Print
Moore, Jackie, & Childs, Tony. As English Literature for AQAA. Oxford: Heinemann, 2004. Print.