As well as passengers, the crew and staff also lost their lives in the disaster. The courage of the musicians on the Titanic has been noted. There were two bands, but they formed together to keep passengers calm during the crisis. They were not employees of The White Star Line, and so had no rights. Not a single one survived. Their music probably saved many lives and kept up everyone’s spirits.
Poet and musician Kim Moore remembers how Wallace Hartley, band leader mentioned in my poem yesterday, was found with his violin strapped to his back. Many thanks to Kim, whose excellent blog you can find from the link to the right.
And when he was found, still in his uniform,
his violin strapped to his back, people began
to remember the way he’d played each night,
not just the last, the dip and turn of his shoulders
as he led the orchestra through a waltz,
the way the ship was all lit up and smiling
like a brand new town, those nights before
the boats were counted, when the chink of cutlery
was louder than the band, how he played on
as boys kicked chunks of ice across the deck
and the ship was immense and black
against a sky full of flares and stars.
I have been fascinated by The Titanic story for years. On a visit to a large exhibition at the O2 a few years ago, I was fascinated to learn that the bathwater was warmed sea water – very ingenious, and marketed as being very healthy, which is course it is, apart from when it is freezing cold. The irony of the sea water baths started this poem:
Bathing on the Titanic
Brass taps spurt a salty waterfall
drawn from the ocean below, piped
warm as blood, from heated tanks.
Health-giving baths with iodine and cobalt,
as boasted on posters, urged by doctors.
Rinse off with fresh water from a bucket
standing to attention behind the bath.
Such luxuries of scented soap and cloudy towels
while the valet lays out dinner clothes.
After brandy and cigars, a game of cards.
until it’s time to take another bath
in salt water, this time taken with ice.
Angela Topping (from Paper Patterns, published by Lapwing 2012)