In many great works of literature, such as short stories and poetry, there is the inclusion of events that shape the future and will forever be engraved in the history of the world. These works account for the happenings that caused such celebration or tragedy. Many times an author will use this occurrence as a way of portraying the feelings of the victims at the particular time. In the following works of poetry, Slavitt’s “Titanic” and Randall’s “Ballad of Birmingham,” the essence of these tragedies have been justified with timeless emotion and historical facts.
Slavitt includes rational thought in “Titanic”, as well as actual events that may have occurred, in order to suggest the emotions and detriment the victims went through. In the first stanza, the author includes the question, “Who does not love the Titanic?” This particular inquiry represents the imagery and lore of the amazing ship as it first made its appearance. Many people remember the Titanic as a ship with incredible characteristics, one of beauty and grace. It also shows the ever-present reputation one holds for such a historical event. It is possible that a person would go back to the Titanic, although the knowledge of its sinking would discourage otherwise, merely to be a part of a dynamic tale of courage. The second line of the second stanza represents the atmosphere of the ship in its final hours, “But with crowds of people, friends, servants, well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!” This particular line portrays the people preparing for death and how one will assume a greater place when one is faced with such tragedy. For example, the servants on the ship seem to keep order by being calm and collective, they give up their want to be rescued for the greater good of others. This is also apparent as the orchestra plays music up until the very end. The very last stanza also inhibits the horrid visions of financial rank, “We all go: only a few, first class.” This line describes the death of many people located in the third class quarters. Many of them were denied the chance to survive; therefore, many of them suffered the dreadful death of the cold Atlantic, while only a few first class passengers went with them. This poem represents the oppression and emotional stress of a horrific tragedy as the Titanic.
The actual sinking of the “unsinkable ship” brought upon similar emotion as well as lasting portrayals of distress. The Titanic disaster was one of the worst maritime disasters in history. This calamity claimed the lives of many. The Titanic had a sort of prestige to many people. It was the largest ocean liner in the world. The ambiance it portrayed was astonishing among people of the wealthy classes. Every person wanted to be part of the dream, the lavish interior and the immensity of the Titanic was a fantasy to most everyone. The question used in the poem suggests the wonderment of the fantasies people held of the ship at that time. In addition, the ship is known for the orchestra which played until the very end. The musicians felt as thought it would be their last performance and therefore kept playing, rising above the crying and screaming. The servants aboard also helped passengers with life vests, as well as into the lifeboats. This allowed the passengers of the time to feel more at ease. The emotions grew as the ship began to sink. Perhaps Slavitt attempts to illuminate this by his use of particular exclamations to create a rhythm which inhibits the thought of alarm or discontent in this particular line, “But with crowds of people, friends, servants, well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!” Also, many of the third class passengers were denied places on the lifeboats. Slavitt presents this notion when he exhibits that only a few first-class passengers died with them. The places on the lifeboat were set aside for the upper class passengers. The actual tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic is likened to the poem of the same name, “Titanic.”
Randall’s “Ballad of Birmingham” also represents actual events in a poetic context that reveals particular emotions as well as grief. The poem begins as a young boy asks his mother