The Wreck of the Deutschland: Stanza 17 - Summary

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      The passengers showed courage in fighting against the biting cold with valor. But they too succumbed as it was beyond their strength to put a brave face against it for a long time. Many foil-like dead leaves and were crushed to death while others drowned. The roaring of waves with the passengers in the night created an unnerving atmosphere. The heart-rending cries of the passengers caused grief to the night. Women along with children were ceaselessly crying till a towering voice of a nun or a virgin was heard. They emerged like a propheter who was peerless in courage.

Line by Line Analysis

Lines 1-4: They fought.....over the wreck: The passengers unsuccessfully fought against the chilly biting cold. ‘God’s cold’ means cold is also the work of God. Their efforts were of no value. Twenty persons fell while others were crushed and drowned ruthlessly in the stormy winds and waves.

Lines 5-7: Night roared.....breasting the babble: The night also roared which means that the tumultuous waves roared in the night. Hopkins here perhaps has personified the night and the cries of the passengers made the night also roaring. The spectacles were very heart-rending and even the Night felt broken-hearted.

Hearing a heart broke rabble: The shrieks and cries of the passengers. Children and women were crying and there was no end to it.

Breasting the babble: towering above the crowd’s noise.

Line 8: A prophetess towered in the tumult, a virginal tongue told: In the preceding lines ‘lioness’ stands for dauntless courage shown by the nun. The heart-rending cries of women and children only stopped when the voice of the nun was heard. The nun or the prophetess’s voice emerged and spoke in virgin’s voice.

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