Titanic poetry books what are the rarest and whats the appeal


Tarn Stephanos

I am a self procalimed Titanic bibliophile- I collect the rarest Titanic books-(Shipbuilders, walker, Young, Bullock, etc..)

But in recent years I have pruned my collection, and I decided to stop collecting Titanic poetry and fiction and have thus sold and traded off any and all Titanic poetry and fiction books.

I read my non fiction Titanic books (exept Titanic poetry or Titanic fiction), no matter how rare they are- but reading a titanic poetry book is tantamount to slow torture..
The only reason I imagine people would collect Titanic poetry books would be for the scarcity..
I know some Titanic biliophiles who never read any of thier books- they just want shelves filled with rare Titanic books- reading them is another matter..
But Im sure there are Titanic biliophiles who really enjoy and appreciate the Titanic poetry.
I confess, Im a tad jaded...most Titanic poetry came to my ears as very bad poetry...

Look at the 1912 "The Wreck & Sinking of the Titanic" poetry book by Andrew O'Malley, now on Ebay, and going for over $1000.


Now I can understand a J Bernard walker, Thayer, or Shipbuilders for going over $1000, but a Titanic poetry book?

Are there any Titanic bibiophiles here who collect ultra rare Titanic poetry books?
Do you collect Titanic poetry books becuse you are touched by the poetry , or rather for the value or rarity of the book?
I had a few rare Titanic poetry books, and kept them only becuse they were rare...I think I opened them once...
What are the rarest and most sought after Titanic poetry books? I see the Stahl and Pratt Titanic poetry books pop on Ebay now and again...

Any Titanic bibliphiles not into Titanic poetry books at all?


Tarn Stephanos
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Tarn, the rarest may well be The Passing of the Titanic, published in Adelaide in 1912 by Christopher Nixon.

You've probably seen the sample on my web site. I have a photocopy of the whole thing.


I agree that reading Titanic poems is a painful experience. I find even Hardy's work clumsy, tedious and full of tortured syntax. What the hell was "august" about the sinking? As so often, the disaster brought out the worst poetasters.

Tarn Stephanos

There was one dreadfull Titanic poem that stands out- I barely remember it- it went something like this

"The steamer Titanic,
was unsinkable, or so they thunk (sic)
for on her first trip out,
she plumb done sunk"......

I forget the rest, I think you get the idea...


Tarn Stephanos
Donald J A Smith

Donald J A Smith

Hardy's 'Convergence of the Twain' is, of course, the most noted example. But, President Roosevelt's sisters' sonnet sequence is also a fine poetic tribute to 'Titanic'. The short poem that accompanies the famous 1912 drawing by Bernard Partridge - first published in 'Punch' - and which is signed simply 'O.S.', is by the young Osbert Sitwell. These, to quote Elgar out of context, are 'worthy of your remembrance'. Otherwise? Unworthy!
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Young Osbert attended the same school as James Moody in Scarborough - he began the year after Moody left to join the Conway. Wonder if he was ever aware of the connection?

I'm particularly partial to poems that compare Smith to Nelson or Raleigh - or have him fighting thunderous seas as the ship goes down...

Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?"

I often reckon the fish I encounter on shipwrecks are solemnly querying the very same thing.

Do have to love the sea worms crawling over glass, though - "grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent". Wow - if you're going to sling together a few adjectives...

Marilyn Lena Penner

The e-Bay posting mentioned that Toronto Public Library had a copy. The Reference Library does have a copy, but on microfiche (CIHM 75350, in Special Collections, and not to be interloaned) The original of that copy is in the National Library of Canada in Ottawa.

Hoping this attracts the Titanic researchers in Toronto to dear old 789 Yonge St.
Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

Staff member
Hi Marilyn,

"Hoping this attracts the Titanic researchers in Toronto to dear old 789 Yonge St."

Yes, I definitely will be there to view it, since the one on ebay is way out of my budget. Plus, it's too overpriced for a poetry book. Which reminds me, I must plan another day soon to get some more articles off microfilm.

Best regards,

Fiona Nitschke

Fiona Nitschke

'Too overpriced for a poetry book'? I know a lot of poets who'd disagree with that. ;)

I enjoy a lot of poetry, attend readings, buy collections and work in a related area, so my Titanic collection naturally includes quite a number of poetry books.

I've collected what I can over the years, but the rarer works are so far out of my price range it isn't funny. Sometimes I've picked up odd little collections that included Titanic poems for the proverbial song. Like all other aspects of collecting Titanica, you win some, you lose some. Fortunately my 'book luck' runs true for poetry in the main, although I'm yet to be able to afford a Forshaw.

Some of the works in my collection are truly dire, much of it along the lines of the appalling poem oft cited by Dave Gittins. Interestingly, they tend to be in the rarer books that can be quite costly.

Some of it is very good too. Of course taste in poetry is quite subjective, but here's three long works / collections I regard as the best:

~ The Sinking of the Titanic: A Comedy (in the sense that Dante's Inferno is a 'comedy') by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. (1978)

~ The Titanic by EJ Pratt (1932)

~ The White Star by Kathleen Stewart (1997)

I wouldn't call any of these rare.


Hi there.

I have an original signed version of E.J. Pratt's "The Titanic". I have a collector who would like to purchase it but I want to make sure I'm getting a good price for it. It is in VERY good condition with some very slight yellowing on the front cover and as indicated, is signed by pratt. Would anyone have any idea what this book is worth? I've seen anywhere from 250.00 to 750.00 on the net.

Thanks, Nancy