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.
Poetry is a rhythmic representation of diction, imagery, symbol, syntax, and other literary elements.
In creating music, poets may use end rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance, anaphora, refrain, and/or some other sound-related techniques. So, you would want to slow down a bit, so that you can catch the musical elements in this poem.
Why don't you practice this routine, when you encounter a new poem, look around--listen--mull it over--and tell?
Look around: where is the ship, Titanic, at the beginning of the poem? The title and subtitle will help guide you. The Titanic is lost. Stanzas 1 and 4 further provide more clues: the ship is far way from human society, "deep" "in a solitude of the sea," lying "lightless." Stanzas 2-4 depict the lofty pride and luxurious lifestyle of the affluent that are now the ironic testament of human vanity and blindness.
In Stanza 5, we might as well join the fishes in gawking at the sunken ship.
On a different note, why do you think Hardy uses capitalization so frequently?
Listen: what music and tone does the poem create? Each three lines--what we call a triplet--form a stanza and the same end rhyme intensifies the unity among these lines. Alliteration and consonance are heavily utilized to enhance the bleak and ominous tone: "lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind."
Mull it over: what is the speaker's attitude toward the sinking of this ship? Poets deliberately choose descriptive words, what we call diction, to conjure up specific images in the reader. What imagery do "twain," "mate," "intimate," "welding," "path coincidental," and "consummation" evoke in you? What force do you think would prepare such a fateful, ominous union between the Ship and the Iceberg? Is it closer to God or to Nature in your view?
and now tell us what this poem is about: