The Death of the RMS Titanic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic


 The brightest of stars, the oil-slick ocean, the blackest night,

The sailors’ foggy breath, ice whiskers dancing ‘round each light,

Only a handful of men had read the wires warning of ice ahead

But shrugs alone met those tales, faster onward the liner sped

Few wander the promenades; fewer see she’s sailing towards doom

Groups of men, playing poker, sit in the Gentleman’s Smoking Room

The ladies settle aside, reading books, writing out long letters

Stewards help the richest men on earth as if truly their betters

Deep below, the poor, still awed over her splendor, dance and sing

And a new wife smiles over the wonder of her gold wedding ring

Deeper still, firemen and stokers sweat, bathed in thick, heavy steam

Shoveling into four furnace mouths each what felt like a whole coal seam

Designer Andrews studies what changes to make to his fine new ship

And the seasoned good Captain enjoys his last White Star Line trip

Bride and Phillips send novel Marconi messages to Cape Race

 Ester Hart sits up nightly, ever watching her child’s sleeping face

Surrounded by bergs and growlers, the Californian cries ‘ware

Ships far and wide echo the message, sail only if you foolishly dare

On moves the latest Queen of the Ocean at twenty-two and a half knots

And Decks A through G shine brightly with the new electric watts

Californian buzzes once more at eleven, she’s stopped dead in the field

Titanic scoffs, “Shut up!” never willing to drop speed in yield

In the Crow’s nest, Fleet sees the faint shadow, ice shine of a sort

Warning bell clangs, bridge phone rings: a static shout of “Turn port!”

Titanic turns a-starboard, yet deep below sounds an almighty groan.

But few passengers stumbled or indeed even fewer fell prone

A-dream or awake, the rest partied on, blissfully unaware

Wallace Hartley conducts the Huddersfield Orchestra with flair

Those who noted some change in the Queen’s graceful dance

Heard only a rumor of lost propeller blade, back to Belfast first chance

A stoker’s last meal scatters across the boiler-room floor

First Officer Murdoch quickly slams shut each water tight door

Down on Orlop Deck, green seawater rushes into holds one through five

Engineer Bell shouts “Close dampers, draw the fires, quick, act alive”

To the bridge go Captain, designer Andrews, and slippered Bruce Ismay

The three great men listen to the tale with only mildest dismay

Archibald Gracie is now on deck, contemplating shards of ice

Third classmen play ice soccer on the well deck, never seeing the price

Postmaster March and his clerks work knee deep in Atlantic Ocean

Moving two hundred mail sacks, they are an engine in motion

A young girl sobs in Scotland; she dreams a terrible wreck is coming

And a man named “Wally” will die with his music’s sweet humming

First classmen carry ice to the Smoking Room as temporary souvenirs

One scared woman dresses fully, warmly, apart from her peers.

Andrews rushes back to the Bridge, face dark as a funeral pall

“I’m sorry, men, but we’ve two hours, three, maybe, but that’s all.”

“Set out the lifeboats, women and children first,” Captain Smith said

“Regardless of what we do, it’ll be twelve hundred-more dead.”

Each sailor grits his teeth tight to hold emotions deeply at bay

Smith tells Phillips and Bride to signal “CQD” calling May Day

The Marconi buzzes over the air: CQD, save the rich and the poor

Crackles of static from the ship MGY, reach to every far shore

Chief Baker Joughin sends up forty pounds worth of his good bread

First to third class are becalmed, no idea of the impending dread

Officers Murdoch and Lightoller begin opening the too-few lifeboats

Stewards go door to door, knocking loudly, straightening their coats

“Buckle on lifebelts! Up onto deck! You’ll soon return! Leave all behind!”

The funnels now roar with shrieks of the wounded, dying ship’s mind

Sister ship Olympic clicks: “Coming in aid, can Titanic please wait?”

A pity she stands five hundred miles away near New York State

Lawrence Beesley notices the stairs are not quite right under his feet

Colonel Gracie quips to Squash Master that they best cancel their meet

Only sixteen wooden lifeboats; odd numbered starboard, even on port side

A cold night, seventy feet to the sea; why leave the warmth inside?

First goes Number 7; slippered Bruce Ismay shouts “Quickly, lower faster!”

At twelve forty-five, those few will not tonight meet their great Master

Thomas Rowe fires twelve rockets, up every five minutes begging for aid

Bride tells Phillips send the new SOS, laughing; they’re not yet afraid

Ships far and wide answer Titanic; the night is full of wireless beeping

By spyglass, Californian watches the lights, her wireless man left sleeping

Fifty-eight miles away, Carpathia answers: “Coming fourteen and a half knot!”

Captain Rostron orders off any extras; boil all the steam the old girl’s got

The Strauses wander the Titanic, each refusing to abandon the other

While young children cry as they are handed across rails to their mother

A group of men, steadily smoking cigars, continue playing poker

And an information-seeking man passes by dressed like a stoker

“Put this on, it’s the latest in fashion; everybody’s wearing it this season,”

Says a man as he urges women to don lifebelts with good reason

Edith Rosenbaum hurries across deck, her toy pig playing “Maxine

Firearms were given to each officer, “Use it to clear up any scene.”

Sweating crew crank down lifeboats: Number Eight leaves at one ten

As women and children are escorted carefully about by their men

Near empty lifeboats were dropped, few saw leaving necessary at first

“If they’re setting out boats they may as well fill them,” said crewman Hurst

The electric lights glow in the water, steerage climb up locked gates

A la carte employees, not crew nor passenger, blanch at their fates

For none on board the unsinkable ship know which lifeboat is theirs

Whoever expected this trouble when all paid their full fares?

The ship Frankfort wastes Phillips’ time: “What’s happened old man?”

Californian tries Morse lamp without answer; gives up that plan

Smith warns the wireless crew that the “Power’ll soon be gone.”

Phillips mutters, “No ship will be here before the morning’s dawn.”

At Lifeboat Fourteen, Lowe fires his gun along the great ship’s side

Tells the rushing group, “This is what’ll happen next time that’s tried.”

Gambler Jay Yates hands a woman a hasty note for his married sister

Hartley still commands his band, while many pray ‘round a minister

 “Tell my wife I did my best to my duty,” Guggenheim said gravely

A husband tosses a necktie in luck to his wife, smiling bravely

Chandeliers hang drunkenly, silence in beautiful rooms once full

The ocean bulges near the bridge as Neptune never ceases his pull

Colonel Astor asks to board No Four with his young expectant bride

But port side alone didn’t allow men, so he quietly complied

Ryerson’s lad of fourteen is not to be allowed to follow his mother

“Of course the boy goes with his mother!”  “Ok,but not any other!”

“The water’s up to the boilers,” Phillips calls, “come quickly, old man”

Carpathia’s Rostron orders that the furnaces burn as hot as they can

The workhorse shudders under her boilers’ unexpected power

She’s now at sixteen knots, getting her closer by every quarter hour

Officers fight on the roof to loosen Collapsible lifeboats D and C

While Chief Baker Joughin tosses off deck chairs and other debris

Collapsible D is fitted to davits under electric lights glowing red

Clifford thinks ruefully of the fifty thousand life policy once he is dead

Third Class aft deck is fully popular now, mingling the rich and poor

Andrews stands in the Smoking Room, broken to the very core

“Leave your stations, each man for himself,” Captain tells all his crew

Hartley’s final rap on his violin, and the song “Autumn” rings out true

Two ten a.m., Phillips sent a last message; Virginian hears only a“VV”

Hart had said “It was time for the greatest, worst ever disaster at sea.”

The officers struggled to the last to release Collapsible B Lifeboat

As the water climbs firmly over the Bridge at Titanic’s fair throat

The first funnel gives way to this wave with a soul-rending scream

Carpathia’s at seventeen and a half knots, under unthinkable steam

Bride, without Phillips, is washed out under overturned Collapsible B

While countless others have already become victims of the sea

Joughin steps over the rail far a-stern, studies his watch, two twenty

He walks into the sea, whiskey having warmed him up plenty

Titanic slumps slightly, her tense amidships twisting at death

Furnishings slide in a grinding crash with the ship’s last breath

Twenty nine boilers, five grand pianos, a fifty phone switchboard

And  the great band’s instruments add in a horrific, sad chord

Away on lifeboats far and near, many buried their head at the sight

And a few women cried softly but most sat numb with the fright

Titanic’s lights flicker, on again with a sigh and off for all time

Only twenty small lifeboats was surely a terrible, unforgivable crime

A thousand-so voices cry out over the oily, dark, water painfully cold

While a few swam to the lifeboats A and B, gratefully grabbing hold

On overturned B, two rows of fifteen men stand strong tonight

And drunken man Joughin clings on the side, “Its O.K., I’m all right.”

Molly Brown scolds a crewman “Shut up, we’ll toss you overboard!”

 Number Four finds the Lady Rothes “More of a man than any on board.”

Two lifeboats finally return as the cries on the sea dim down low

But most they pull up will die from the cold sea’s mighty blow

Silence reigns where hours before there was dancing and singing

Instead of a great liner, the best ever seen, darkness is now ringing

Until three o’clock, they huddle on silk seas when a chill breeze starts

The thirty men standing on the overturned boat feel fear in their hearts

Pulled aboard Lifeboat Four, they wait for Carpathia’s distant lights

At four o’clock comes sign that ends this most heartbreaking of nights

Carpathia stands now waiting for them all, her sides lined with boats

Her decks filled with chairs, blankets, doctors and extra passenger coats

The search for loved ones begins, and incorrect reports sound on land

Hope against hope, while groups around White Star Line take their stand

But alas, alas, fifteen hundred seventeen or more were found to be lost

And never again were enough lifeboats considered a poor cost.


Submitted: November 07, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Miranda Trewella. All rights reserved.

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Miranda Trewella

I've spent decades studying Titanic's disaster...tragic

Sat, November 7th, 2020 6:33pm

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