After the “unsinkable” steamship Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage from London to New York in 1912, Thomas Hardy wrote “The Convergence of the Twain” to be printed in the program of a charity performance given at the Royal Opera House to aid the victims. Exactly how comforting the bereaved found this ironic eleven-section work has not been recorded. For Hardy, the disaster was an occasion for reflecting on the relationships among humans, nature, and an impersonal supernatural force controlling or at least foreseeing events.
The poem is written in eleven three-line stanzas; the three lines of each stanza rhyme. The first two lines of each stanza have six to eight syllables, and the last line of each has twelve or thirteen syllables. The stanzas fall into two groups: The first five stanzas describe the sunken ship, and the last six trace the events leading up to the sinking.
The omniscient speaker of the poem first sees the sunken ship and the changes in its situation. The first stanza emphasizes how the shipwreck is now wholly separated from the “human vanity” and “Pride of Life” that led to its building. Thus, from the very beginning, the speaker disparages the possibility of creating an unsinkable craft. The speaker then turns his attention to the ironic changes in some of the more striking parts of the ship. The enormous fire-boxes, intended to burn coal to create power for the engines, almost...
(The entire section is 417 words.)