Monday, June 09, 2008


After the Titanic
Derek Mahon

They said I got away in a boat
And humbled me at the inquiry. I tell you
I sank as far that night as any
Hero. As I sat shivering on the dark water
I turned to ice to hear my costly
Life go thundering down in a pandemonium of
Prams, pianos, sideboards, winches,
Boilers bursting and shredded ragtime. Now I hide
In a lonely house behind the sea
Where the tide leaves broken toys and hatboxes
Silently at my door. The showers of
April, flowers of May mean nothing to me, nor the
Late light of June, when my gardener
Describes to strangers how the old man stays in bed
On seaward mornings after nights of
Wind, takes his cocaine and will see no one. Then it is
I drown againwith all those dim
Lost faces I never understood, my poor soul
Screams out in the starlight, heart
Breaks loose and rolls down like a stone.
Include me in your lamentations.No reason for this post other than a powerful poem, and one I met over at the Self-Syled Siren's wonderful discursion on the three film versions of the Night The Great Ship Went Down.

The speaker is one Bruce Ismay, manager of the White Star Line in 1912. While over 1500 of about 2200 passengers died, he jumped into a partly filled lifeboat as it was about to be lowered. He was publicly pilloried for breaking the Victorian moral code as "J. Brute Ismay", became a recluse and died a broken man.


mike said...

A better line for the brute would be:

"I say nothing because I am ashamed — I plead for nothing — because I deserve no mercy at your hands."

Meghan H said...

I think Ismay's 21st century equivalent might be someone like Ken Lay. Lay may not have doomed thousands to their deaths, but certainly doomed them to a life of full-time work in their old age.

I only wish that we could imagine someone like Ken Lay would have felt Ismay's level of remorse before his death -- but somehow I doubt he did.

Fasteddiez said...


That is to assume that he is dead....methinks he and his footmen have performed a Robert Vesco like transubstantiation to a humanoid like form, located in a friendlier clime, which holds no unfortunate extradition treaties with our republic. The way in which the judge dismissed the case makes me think so. Has anyone seen the corpse?

FDChief said...

After Enron
by F.D. Chief

They said I got away with the loot
And cheated the indictment.
I tell you
I stashed it as far out of sight as any burglar. As I sat gloating in my Enron-financed home I turned to my wife to relish my costly
Life go thundering on in a pandemonium of
Hummers, tee times, Prada and Bijan,
Pensions bursting and shredded life savings.
And so did my heart.
Now I hide
In an expensive grave beside the rich
While the poor schmucks leave broken toys and single shoes
in the homes they're foreclosed from. The snarls of Dick, the goofing of Dubya mean nothing to me, nor the
weak bleat of taxes, as my widow
Describes to strangers how the old man fixed her up real good.
Cayman secrets, Zurich gnomes, the old man took his boodle to the grave and will see no one.
Then it is I laugh again at all those dim,
stupid faces I never cared about, my damned soul
chuckles in the starlight, once more revelling in the sweet, sweet evasion.
Bite me, Fedboy.

Meghan H said...

I agree, Ken Lay's death seemed a little too neatly packaged. Suspicious -- and I'm usually no conspiracy theory type.

Chief, you have said it better than I could have. Do robber barons have consciences? I'm guessing no.

basilbeast said...

It seems that the latest Ismay may be Phil Gramm, architect of the de-regulation of the financial industry and sub-prime mortgage crisis and paid lobbyist for Swiss banking interests.

Still John McCain's economics policy advisor. The fellow he brought on board after mentioning he didn't know 'bout no eek oh nomix!