It Will Be Beautiful in the Morning


Inger Sheil

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A friend once said that he found Reverend Harper's observation at sunset on 14 April that 'It will be beautiful in the morning' one of the most moving lines uttered in connection with the disaster. I was thinking of it when I came across this passage while re-reading a written account by Harold Lowe - although it was included as part of a legal document, it has a quiet, somewhat crisp but haunting resonance:
quote:

The weather when I went off watch was splendid. It was a fine clear night with no wind. There was no moon but the stars were shining brilliant and they could be seen rising and setting on the horizon. There was no fog or haze and the sea appeared quite calm. It was cold.
Another passage that has lodged in my mind, to surface every so often in memory, is Clear Cameron's observation on the icebergs the next morning:
quote:

If it hadn't been for the disaster the sight of those icebergs would have been splendid for the height of them was miles and miles, such a thing is seldom seen.
What other thoughts and observations do folks think have the same elegaic beauty?​
 

Bob Godfrey

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Following a precise and often horrific account of the sinking and its immediate aftermath, Lawrence Beesley applies his customary eye for detail to a description of the breaking dawn of April 15:

First a beautiful, quiet shimmer away in the east, then a soft golden glow that crept up stealthily from behind the sky-line as if it were trying not to be noticed as it stole over the sea and spread itself quietly in every direction - so quietly, as if to make us believe it had been there all the time and we had not observed it. Then the sky turned faintly pink and in the distance the thinnest, fleeciest clouds stretched in thin bands across the horizon and close down to it, becoming every moment more and more pink. And next the stars died, slowly - save one which remained long after the others just above the horizon; and near by, with the crescent turned to the north, and the lower horn just touching the horizon, the thinnest, palest of moons.
 
May 12, 2005
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What a great topic. I had not read those fascinating accounts before, Inger. And Bob, thanks for reminding us of that great description by Beesley, definitely one of the best.

I'm partial to the 1951 edited version of the opening paragraph of chapter 13 in Lucy Duff Gordon's memoir, Discretions and Indiscretions (New York: Fred. A. Stokes, Co., 1932). I think it's beautifully crafted and very powerful.

"...A great liner, stealing through the vast loneliness of the Atlantic, the sky jeweled with stars and a thin wind blowing ever colder, straight from the ice fields, tapping its warning of approaching danger on the cosily shuttered portholes of the cabins, causing the look-out man to strain his eyes into the gloom. Inside this floating palace that spring evening in 1912, warmth, lights, the hum of voices, the gay lilt of a German waltz - the unheeding sounds of a small world bent on pleasure. Then disaster, swift and overwhelming, a story of horror unparalleled in the annals of the sea..."

(Duff Gordon, Lady, "I Was Saved From the Titanic," Coronet, June 1951, pp. 94-97.)

It's Helen Candee's haunting account of April 15 that, for me, has always been the most moving description of that extraordinarily sad and happy morning:

"...Dawn showed the vast reaches of the sea empty of big craft but, floating near, a swaying tangle of dark chairs and cushions and a pale white babe rocked in the cradle of that fashioning. The sun lingered in coming on such a scene. The rescue boat lay still and watched it.

The aurora in the north was paled by the rosy chiffon scarfs that waved over the sun's east. Close down in the warm glow nestled an impertinent crescent moon. Toward the sun rose sinister points, dark against the light - the peaks of ice.

Away from the sun, struck by its light, were wondrous glistening sails of frozen white and pearly pink, ice mountains glorified into celestial beauty, and as far as the eye could see, the limitless level of the ice pack, purer and whiter than man's imagining.

The sound of the woman calling her babes because they were not, the moan of the woman calling her son - these were almost the only sounds from the scattered rowboats that showed like shells on the waters, the limping, chilled and sorrowing fleet to whom the rescue ship brought salvation...."

(Candee, Helen Churchill, "Sealed Orders," Collier's, May 4, 1912, pp 10-12ff.)
 

Inger Sheil

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Ta, Bob and Randy - that's what I had in mind. What strikes me as particularly interesting in this thread is the range of styles and interpretations of the one reference point in time and geography - a sunset night and dawn on the North Atlantic. They run the spectrum from the casual utterance to the legal document, from personal correspondence to carefully constructed literary interpretations.
 

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