The Convergence of the Twain
by Thomas Hardy
In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.
Steel chambers, late the pyres
Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.
Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.
Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.
Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: “What does this vaingloriousness down here?” …
Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything
Prepared a sinister mate
For her — so gaily great —
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.
And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
Alien they seemed to be;
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,
Till the Spinner of the Years
Said “Now!” And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.
Summary of The Convergence of the Twain
- Popularity of “The Convergence of the Twain”: Thomas Hardy, a great English poet wrote The Convergence of the Twain. The poem talks about pride and loss. It was first published in 1915. The poem also mentions the sinking of the great unsinkable ship, Titanic. It reflects the memory of those who lost their lives in that tragic incident.
- “The Convergence of the Twain” As a Representative of Sorrow: The speaker compares human vanity and pride to the powerful sea. According to him, the sea is a quiet place. When someone goes there, their power and vanity evaporate in their face of the tranquil sea. After discussing the sea’s tranquility, the speaker turns toward the wreck of Titanic and presents a graphic detail of the changes occurred in different parts of the ship. He talks about different things one can find on the wreckage such as the jewelry and costly mirrors of wealthy passengers. Sadly, they were lying purposelessly in the dark with fishes and worms to see them.
The sea-creatures also wonder upon the presence of boastful passengers of the ship in the marine world. Later, the speaker attempts to explain the circumstances that led to this disaster. He says that both, the ship and the iceberg took appropriate time to grow. Although no mortal eye would determine how they would meet, yet upon the supernatural call, they came together forcefully and left a profound impact on Europe and the United States. The poet emphasizes about the useless materialistic approach of mankind despite such disasters and tragedies.
- Major Themes in “The Convergence of the Twain”: Pride, destruction, and wonder are the major themes underlined in this poem. The poem presents the materialistic approach of mankind and the superiority of nature over man’s pride. At first, he talks about the costly things designed to please the passengers but now these ornate possessions are meaningless. Later, he demonstrates the unstoppable collision of the ship against the iceberg. The voyage appeared to be so soothing that no one could predict the ultimate tragedy. The tone of the poem and choice of words suggest that there was a kind of “Immanent Will” that had designed that iceberg, especially for that ship as if they were destined for each other.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Convergence of the Twain”
Literary devices are modes that represent the writer’s idea, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices the writers make their few words appealing to the readers. Thomas Hardy has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ee/ in “This creature of cleaving wing” and the sound of /ai/ in “And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she” and the sound of /a/ in “In stature, grace, and hue”.
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. The poem is rich with plenty of alliterations throughout the poem. For example, the sound of /w/ in “Well: while was fashioning and the sound of /th/ in “Or sign that they were bent”.
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /m/ in “Deep from human vanity” and the sound of /ng/ in “This creature of cleaving wing”.
- Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,
“Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event.”
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate”, “Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind” and “The sea-worm crawls — grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.”
- Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has a personified sea in the third line of the poem such as; “And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.”
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. Iceberg symbolizes destruction and the sheep is the symbol of man’s pride.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Convergence of the Twain”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “bent/event”, “years/hears”, “mate/great” and “wing/everything.”
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the AAA rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are eleven stanzas in the poem with each having three verses in it.
- Tercet: A tercet is a three-lined stanza borrowed from Biblical Hebrew poetry. Here, each stanza is tercet.
Quotes to be Used
The lines stated below are useful for children to tell them about life underwater.
“Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.”