Thamas Hardys, The Convergeance Of Twain Essay, Research Paper
Thomas Hardy experienced great difficulty believing in a forgiving, Christian God because of the pain and suffering he witnessed around him. He also endured some pain, with the loss of his wife and suffering during the five years he spent in London that made him ill. As a young man, Hardy wanted to become a clergyman. This vocation was quite a turn around of what he pursued–a career as a famous agnostic writer. He lost faith in his religious, Victorian upbringing. As such, he shared a belief with many modern poets in the futility and waste of human existence. Hardy did believe in a “supreme being” or as he liked to call him “The Immanent Will,” but he did not think of Him as a forgiving God like other Christians. Instead, Hardy believed Him to be portrayed as a vengeful God, which we learn from his poem, “The Convergence of the Twain: (Lines on the loss of the ‘Titanic’)”.
Thomas Hardy wrote this poem with a very noticeable chronological disruption midway through the poem. Unlike most poets who keep their poems in chronological order to maintain suspense throughout the poem, Hardy believed that the subject of the Titanic was so well known that there was not any reason to keep the readers in suspense of what impending doom awaited the Titanic. Instead, he commenced his poem with a description of the Titanic at present: “grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent”(st III). Then he proceeds to the “fashioning”(st VI) of the famous ship and continues to that famous April evening where the “consummation”(st XI) of the two “titanic” masses occurred–the grand ship made from human hands and the silent iceberg made by the “Immanent Will”(st VI).
Hardy does not confine himself inside the walls of set syllables per verse; every stanza has a different number of syllables in each verse. In the first part of his poem the rhythm is very alluring. With proper uses of caesuras, stresses and slacks, Hardy seems to capture the solitude of the sea that he is describing with his steady, gentle sway of words, a “rhythmic tidal lyre”(st II). While reading this poem, the words seem to move persistently slowly up and down like the tide:
In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of life that planned her, stilly couches she. (lines 1-3)
Hardy also numbers all of the eleven stanzas of his poem. The numbering indicates the separation of each one of the stanzas as if to imply that we have to look at this poem as eleven different poems in one. This method gives us a chance to understand the poem more efficiently by studying one stanza at a time. A first reading of the poem would reveal five stanzas describing the “gilded gear”(st V) at the bottom of the sea and six stanzas that refer to the ship and to the iceberg converging at a point so “far and dissociate”(st VII). However, an enjambment occurs between stanza VI and stanza VII, as if these two stanzas were meant to be one:”The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything / Prepared a sinister mate”(lines 18/19). Ironically, these two stanzas describe both the creation of the ship and the creation of the iceberg that are destined to come together later in time.
Hardy takes more of an antithetical approach toward the story of the Titanic than most people think of or ‘chose’ to think of when they hear of the tragedy. Most people want the story to be told through a tragic, yet romantic, point of view that relates the tragedy of the men, women, and children who were lost on that gruesome night. People relate emotionally to the story of the Titanic by watching the movie that was released in the past year because it is from the point of view of the people on the ship. We see a romantic mood portrayed be the people on the ship and the tragedy suffered in the loss of their loved ones. Consequently, Hardy does not want us to share in this travesty that they have experienced. Instead of a tragic poem of the people involved in this tragic event, Hardy distances himself from the picture, far enough just to see the two grand and noble objects, a Godlike view solely focused on the two gigantic entities.
Through his poem, Hardy explains to us that it is a vengeful God that planned the collision. In the section of the poem that contrasts both the development of the ship and of the iceberg, Hardy points out some human vanity. The era when the ‘Titanic’ was built was a time that the production of goods was rapidly evolving. Everything had to be made to be faster, larger, stronger and more efficient thus resulting in the building of the Titanic. This grand and “opulent”(st III) machine represented a spectacular symbol of power that was not a match for God. Humans thought themselves to be so evolved that they were above Him. God, on the other hand, heard these vain remarks and decided to play a game with the people. God challenged the humans creation of the greatest mass on the water with His own. So He played with the humans “gigantic toy” with his own water toy–a great iceberg. Therefore, as a small child would do, He smashed them together with some sort of a destructive nature:
And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too. (lines 22-24)
Hence, “the Spinner of the Years”(st XI), another metaphor used by Hardy to refer to the ’supreme being’ as a vengeful God; upon hearing the vain cries of man clamouring, “I’m the king on the world!” as in the movie “Titanic” God responds as in the poem, with the event when God said “now!”(st XI) and render unto mankind the knowledge that He is the ultimate King of everything. Accordingly, God sends this vaingloriousness made by humans down to the bottom of the sea as a symbol of the vanity of the age thereby, indicating his power over human vanity.