Saturday, April 15, 2017

Poems on the "Titanic"

Wikimedia Commons
RMS Titanic

"These are the immortal,—the fearless"—Upanishads

UP, lads! they say we've struck a berg, though there's no danger yet,—
     Our noble liner was not built to wreck!—
But women may have felt a shock they're needing to forget,
     And when there's trouble, men should be on deck.

Come!—now's the time! They're wanting us to brighten them a bit;
     Play up, my lads—as lively as you can!
Give them a merry English air! they want no counterfeit
     Like that down-hearted tune you just began!...

I think the Captain's worried, lads: maybe the thing's gone wrong;
     Well, we will show them all is right with us!
Of Drake and the Armadas now we'll play them such a song
     Shall make them of the hero emulous.

When boats are being lowered, lads, your place and mine are here,—
     Oh, we were never needed more than now!
When others go, it is for us those left behind to cheer,
     And I am glad, my lads, that we know how!

If it is Death that's calling us, we'll make a brave response;
     Play up, play up!—ye may not play again;
The prize that Nelson won at last, the chance that comes but once,
     Is ours, my lads!—the chance to die like men!
"The Band of the Titanic" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


O NATURE! overmastered by thy power,
Man is a hero still
And knighthood is in flower!
All save his tameless will
Thou can'st subdue by thine appalling might;
But failest utterly to quench his spirit's light.

Yea, though he seem, in conflict with thy strength,
A pygmy of the dust,
Heroic man, at length
Greater than thou, through trust,
Sovereign through something thou can'st not enslave,
Finds once again, in death, the life he scorned to save!
"The Titanic—Aftermath" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

On 18 May 1912, the New York Times reports that Mr. and Mrs. Coates are among those aboard the S. S. Minnewaska en route to London.  This voyage would take place one month after the sinking of the Titanic.  Sometime between then and July 1912, Mrs. Coates would write "The Band of the Titanic." She would also pen "The Titanic—Aftermath" to be published in The Unconquered Air and Other Poems released in November of the same year.  The Coates' were likely headed to painter John McLure Hamilton's home in Murestead, Grove End Road, London, N. W., England, for it was there, during the summer of 1912, that Mr. Hamilton painted their portraits.

Edward H. Coates (1912)
by John McLure Hamilton

The Philadelphia Inquirer, on 10 November 1912, describes the portrait of Mrs. Coates (not shown) as possessing "to a marked degree the charm and vivacity of the sitter, and while it is not an unqualified success in the drawing of the head, the perspective of which is open to criticism, it resembles the curate's egg in the excellence of its parts.  The hands are sympathetic and really rather wonderful in their character."

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