You should describe what the poet writes about and how he uses language to convey the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.
Write about the poem After the Titanic. You should describe what the poet writes about and how he uses language to convey the speaker’s thoughts and feelings. ‘After the Titanic’ is a confessional poem where the poet Derek Mahon assumes the role of the president of the White Star Line as retells his experiences of the ship’s sinking and his life as a recluse. The title is simple and to the point.
The poems begins by stating, “They said I got away in a boat.” The use of the impersonal pronoun, “They,” conveys a sense of paranoia, and, “got away,” implies criminal activity. He claims to have, “sat shivering,” and, “turned to ice.” The sibilance in the first statement serves to emphasise how desperately cold it was, and the clichéd ice metaphor that follows is highly ironic considering the fate of the Titanic.
The speaker uses bleak imagery to convey his trauma, such as his use of cacophonous words like, “Pandemonium,” and “Shredded.” These convey to the reader how chaotic that night on the ship was and how it continues to haunt the speaker even now. When he describes the night he uses alteration twice: “Prams, pianos,” and, “Boilers bursting.” The use of the verb, “bursting,” conveys a violent image and could also serve as a metaphor for how the speaker’s life fell apart after the Titanic and became as useless as a broken boiler.
He uses pathos to incessantly make emotional appeals the reader in an attempt to evoke feelings of sympathy and pity. We see this when he bemoans that his, “Poor soul / Screams out,” and that he, “Sank as far as any / Hero.” By likening himself to a, “Hero,” we realise that he is unrepentant of his actions that night. We get a sense that he is unceasingly haunted by the events of the Titanic and sees remnants of the experience everywhere, such as the, “broken toys and hat-boxes.” This emphasises the guilt he feels over the fact that women and children died and he survived. He speaks of, “Lost faces I never understood.” There is a constant repetition of, “I”, as if the speaker is attempting to justify himself.
We are given a sense of how pitiful the speaker’s life is when we read that every time there is a storm outside he cowers inside and, “Takes his cocaine and will see no-one.” He has taken to substance abuse to dull the pain of metaphorically drowning over and over again. The poem is an extended metaphor of how the speaker did not drown physically, but instead drowned in depression in the aftermath of the disaster. The tone throughout is dark and self-pitying, which reflects these feelings.
The structure of the poem has a similar effect to the language. The poem frequently uses enjambment, giving the poem a broken and melancholic structure that aptly reflects the content of the poem. There is a regular but not constant meter. The poem has a lack of both stanzas and a rhyme scheme, creating a sense of discord. This could be a metaphor for the Titanic, whose maiden voyage was supposed to be regular and predictable but turned out to be anything but.
To conclude, in the final line of the poem the speaker expresses a wish to be remembered in his sadness and to be included in our lamentations. It could be argued that the poem’s main purpose is to convey to the reader that the survivors of the Titanic are in a worse position than those who died due to the stigmatism and survivor’s guilt that wrecked their lives.