Friday, April 14, 2006

A Night to Remember

April 14, 1912. At 11:40 p.m., despite the efforts of First Officer William Murdock, Titanic struck an iceberg and damaged six of her watertight compartments. It took her 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink. In that time 1/3 of those on board escaped in lifeboats. Titanic had more than the required number of boats, enough for about half those on board, but most boats were launched with less than full capacity (for many reasons).

The other 2/3 of Titanic's passengers and crew, over 1,500 men, women, and children, died horribly and needlessly. Many faced death bravely and their stories are part of what keep the memory of Titanic alive today. Titanic died with them, after only four days of service.

Then she, the stricken hull,
The doomed, the beautiful,
Proudly to Fate abased
Her bow titanic.
Praise now her multitude,
Who, nursed her fortitude,
Fell in on deck and faced
Death without panic.

From Poems and Ballads (1896)
by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

In 1898 Senator William Alden Smith, who led the American Inquiry of the Titanic disaster, cut this poem out of a newspaper. In late 1913 Smith re-read the poem and was struck by its eerie resemblance to Titanic. Notice that it was written 16 years before the disaster.

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