Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Convergence of the Twain - Thomas Hardy

99 years ago tonight, the Titanic struck an iceberg and went down in the north Atlantic.  And so, what better poem to read today than this one, in which Hardy talks about the iceberg and the ship in terms of predestination and consummation.  Hardy's wording here is at times odd ("glass" is a verb?), even bizarre, and his imagery grotesque, yet his use of alliteration is highly effective, and the almost erotic imagery (ship/iceberg = a match made in heaven?) is strange, yet fascinating.

I "discovered" this poem on the AP English exam, and have never forgotten it!  I wish I remembered what I wrote about in my essay, though.  *g*

The Convergence of the Twain

     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 fat 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. Wonderful, Sasha! Now I fear I need to find more Hardy poems. Isn't it strange that I just happen to have the old version of the movie *Titanic* from Netflix waiting to be viewed?

    (I'm sharing this post on FB--thanks!)

  2. I'm glad you liked it, Cindy! Many of Hardy's poems have a hopeless or anti-faith tinge that mars them for me, while I still admire his artistry. (The only novel which I've read by him frustrated me exceedingly for the same reason...I couldn't even admire any artistry there. *g*) But his poetry still does make good reading -- especially poems like this one!