In the Thomas Hardy poem, "The Convergence of the Twain", why is the ship described as "prepared for a sinister mate" in line 19?
In the poem, "The Convergence of the Twain", published in 1915, and commemorating the sinking of the luxury ocean liner Titanic three years before, Thomas Hardy gives free reign to his deterministic view of reality. Thus, after mocking the pride and vanity of the 'unsinkable' ship in the first six stanzas of the 11-stanza poem, in the seventh Hardy avers that it was an "Immanent Will that...prepared a sinister mate for her...A Shape of Ice" (lines 18-21), referring, of course, to the iceberg which - sitting across the sealane - sent the Titanic to the bottom of the North Atlantic with a loss of 1200 persons; significantly, mention of this is missing from the poem. In these lines Hardy reveals his creed, if it can be called that. His 'god' is an impersonal, dispassionate "Immanent Will", capitalized in the poem to show its implacable power. Hardy later employs a synonym for it - calling it "the Spinner of the Years (line 31) - thus, bringing his view closer to the Fates of Greek mythology, those three sisters who spun out the inescapable threads of destiny. As Titanic took shape, so Hardy's thesis goes, "in shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too", until the 'twain' encountered one another in their predestined, ill-fated collision. Reinforcing his view that no beneficent Mind governs the universe, Hardy depicts the destruction of Titanic, identified as she, by the iceberg, qualified mostly with male terms, as a kind of violation, using such words as “ravish”, “mate”, “intimate welding”, and “consummation”. Finally, a sadness pervades the poem, but especially in last five stanzas. It is not a sadness over the loss of life, but over the realization that one is trapped in a meaningless universe, the plaything of forces frighteningly real, but unseen, like the hidden bulk of an iceberg.
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