The sinking of the Titanic has resonated now for 100 years in the consciousness of Canadians. The grief, wonder, and curiosity the disaster continues to inspire has been the impetus for countless literary works. While the majority of these are factual or biographical, significant imaginative works of poetry and prose have been produced, works that strive to understand the psychological, social and personal effects of the disaster. Here, then, is a survey of some of the most important works of poetry produced on the subject of the sinking of the Titanic, poetry read and loved by, and for the most part produced by, Canadians.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I thought it was appropriate to revist some classic shipwreck songs, from the Jack-Johnson-inspired “Fare Thee Well Titanic” to a vibrant toast about escaping the Titanic’s sinking, and a popular Stan Rogers’ song about the fictional wreck and rebuilding of the the Mary Ellen Carter.
The Titanic, named for the Titans, or god-giants of Greek mythology, was the largest (269 m), most luxurious ocean liner to its time. It was touted to be unsinkable, but it struck an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912, on the fifth day of its maiden voyage, and sank in 2 hours, 40 minutes, with the loss of 1513-1522 lives, including the captain and Canadian railway tycoon Charles Melville Hays.
For the 328 people whose bodies were recovered at the site of the Titanic disaster, unique fatality reports were created. They speak volumes about those whose bodies were retrieved. From third-class passengers to millionaires, these reports document their lives through what they had on their person that fateful night.