The Saga of the Titanic
The merchants and the masters dreamed
Of a vessel great in length and beam -
A capital ship, a lofty argosy,
Built to weather the mightiest sea.
Upon the blocks was set the keel
And fastened true the ribs of steel.
A structure of wondrous symmetry,
Towered above both land and sea.
"Unsinkable," some would say,
As each plate was riveted fast,
”This giant ship would rule the sea
And forever last.”
From steel of forge and steel of will,
This mammoth titan rose.
Stem to stern, keel to stacks,
She was elegant in her pose.
Her bridge was built to oversee
The oceans vast, the seven seas.
The wheelhouse with its mighty wheels
Would steer the ship through calm and gales.
Staterooms, ballrooms, and cabins, too,
Were luxurious through and through.
The finest woods from distant lands
Were carved by skillful, mastered hands.
Crystal hung from ceilings high,
Her graceful staircase reached the sky.
She was built to carry the aristocracy
And care for them in great luxury
Also those of meager purse
Were afforded passage of lesser berth.
But for all her, all and all
The Titanic had two fatal flaws -
The bulkheads were not tall,
And not enough lifeboats for all.
After thousands of pounds and the pounding of men,
From the captive earth she was ready to fend.
Then the great ship left her cradle of birth
And spurned the soil of mother earth.
Along her keel she slipped and groaned,
As the womb of earth delivered her home.
Into the arms of the waiting sea
To write R.M.S. Titanic into history.
From Southampton Docks she got underway,
Crowds shouted farewells on that memorable day.
From the “Gateway to the World”
The Titanic set sail.
To master calm seas
And the mightiest gales.
Then down in the depth of this mammoth wonder
Her powerful engines roared fire and thunder.
Like a humpbacked dragon with four stacks high,
She spewed her hot breath into the sky.
The mighty engines turned the shafts and props
As tugs nudged her from the White Star Docks.
But her propeller suction caused the ship New York
To bob and weave like a helpless cork
And snapped her lines, setting her free
On a collision course with the “Maiden of the Sea.”
Happily, the mighty tugs caught hold
And steered the ships into their folds.
Secure was she, out of harm’s way;
The Titanic was safe, for another day.
On April 11, 1912
At 13:30 bells,
The Titanic raised anchor from the depth of the sea
And set her course into history.
She had some 2,207 on board,
And tons of food and drink were stored.
Gaiety and fun ran high
As the sight of land was lost to the sky.
Into the Atlantic she set sail.
“A routine voyage that surely could not fail.”
On Sunday, April 14, 1912,
All was calm, all was well.
Near midnight a cry went out –
“Iceberg right ahead!” was the shout.
The watertight doors were shut to the sea,
The wheel was spun port instinctively.
But the ship struck the berg on its starboard side –
A fatal wound; the mammoth would die.
Lifeboats were lowered so some could flee
Amid great confusion and much misery.
Women and children first was the cry-
As the brave stood on deck prepared to die.
“C.Q.D.”, “C.Q.D.”, “C.Q.D.”
The help signal sparked through the air
The Titanic’s cry for help and its beckoning prayer.
Some would survive this awful fate
Which revealed both cowards and heroes great.
Most men stood bravely on the sinking ship.
But a coward into a woman’s dress did slip
And into a lifeboat he did climb;
A seaman’s revolver protested the slime.
There were heroes, like “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,”
Who cheered frightened souls, soothing tears and frowns.
On April 15, 1912
The Titanic tolled its final bell
As the band played solemnly
“Nearer, my God, to Thee.”
The great ship sank into its ocean grave,
Only some 705 souls were saved.
A survivor said of this ghastly scene,
“It appeared as a horrible nightmare, an eerie dream –
Because as the great ship sank into the sea,
Its lights glittered like strings of toy jewelry.
Then slowly, one by one, the lights went out -
Darkness fell. Death was all about.”
Mercifully, the good ship Carpathia came to aid,
Saving many a soul from a watery grave.
All were grateful, but all were sad
For the loss of friends and loved ones was horribly bad.
Then a great hush descended,
The world waited for the news.
Who would be saved? Who would we lose?
“The Titanic sunk! The Titanic sunk!”
was shouted from the streets.
She’s gone, she’s gone,” the cries faded
To mournful weeps.
“What are we waiting for, Mommy?
Why are we waiting so long?”
“We’re waiting for news of your father –
I pray that he’s not gone.”
Slowly the names were posted,
Bells were tolled throughout the land
For people of humble birth and people eminent and grand.
The sea did not discriminate
Between the humble and the great.
Those who survived and those who died
Were lifted or swallowed by sea, time and tide.
The disaster of the Titanic rings throughout history,
For its toll of loss resounds in hypocrisy,
Because the disaster began in the minds of men
As arrogance and greed had its way with them.
Arrogance, because they believed nature could be tamed –
“Surely, the Titanic can beat nature at its game!”
And greed took on penny-pinching schemes,
As the moguls of gold made profit their dreams.
Thus, the “Saga of the Titanic” has lessons to teach:
The achievements of men have limited reach.
For when the love of money steers men’s goals,
From the depth of the sea can be heard the poor souls
Who cry in whispers from their watery graves
“If not for arrogance and greed, we would have been saved.”
©2000 James L. Manniso