In Memory of Titanic #5


Today’s first poem is by John Greening. You can find out more about him and his work by visiting his website:

This poem is from his sonnet sequence.

From The Winter Journey  (Sonnet 29)

Steadfastly, surely,’ said the Express correspondent,
its twenty thousand tons of nothing slid
‘like some movement of Fate … as a glacier glides
to the sea’ …  Steel bauble, diversion for the affluent,

a jerry-built toy.  From the White Star, Bruce Ismay
is standing proud and smiling in the dock.
Twenty-two knots, yes sir! he assures us.  Nearer New York
to Thee.  Blue Riband in his eyes, a smile.

We are still at Crozier, listening to the wind rivet
its Ross Sea Dreadnought, Unsinkable,
to be sent north next spring, parade tiptoe

in front of millionaires and aristocrats who’ll have it
photographed and still not picture the unthinkable,
the cold, the dark, the seven eighths below.


First published by Rivelin Press (1984), then Bloodaxe Books (1991) and Greenwich Exchange (2009)

The second poem is a new one, by Maggie Mackay, in response to some letters which have recently been found, and shed light on the the survival of the Duff Gordons, who were slammed at the time by unfair rumours. In fact, they behaved honourably and were kind to the seamen who were in charge of the boat they were in.Maggie lives in Scotland and was also interested because of the Scottish connection. She provided a link to the article she had found and I share that with you, because it is fascinating.


Sir Cosmo’s Titanic Box

It spills out letters which record
the unfolding horrors of the night.
That April afternoon his wife Lucy was heard
to say ‘it seemed so awfully cold,
we might be passing icebergs.’
After dinner a rumbling noise erupted
like ‘people playing bowls, rolling the great bowls along’,
followed by a tearing, the signal of steam escaping.
Noise, ‘nothing the matter’, noise.
Yet passengers ran along the deck,
laughing champagne bubbles and after-dinner jokes.

Sir Cosmo lifted his Edwardian survival kit:
a brandy flask, his Colt pistol, bunch of cigars.
He lowered moleskin fur-coated Lucy into the captain’s wooden cutter,
the boat seen in a small drawing and snagged at an angle.
Seven oarsmen – perhaps from Edinburgh Glasgow, Paisley,
according to the ship’s list – pulled off into nothingness.
All eyes locked on Titanic’s lights disappearing row after row.
She shattered, snapped in two, broken like a matchstick,
and, accompanied by her human cargo, took the final plunge.

Once secure upon the ship Carpathia,
Cosmo wrote seven Coutts cheques for seven seamen
to replace what was lost, their wages and all they possessed.

Maggie Mackay



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One response to “In Memory of Titanic #5

  1. This has been a very affecting set of poems. I cannot help but hear the hymn, “It is well with my soul” in my head as I read them