The Corner

Poetry

THE SS NORMANDIE

Confiscated from Vichy France, she sat

In the Hudson for months until the fire.

The smoke was so thick over midtown, rumors

Spread the Japanese had attacked New York.

The old transatlantic style fulfilled itself

In her Art Deco and Streamline Moderne.

She looked like a giant clipper, narrow

As a blade in Cassandre’s poster, black hull,

White decks, red belts at waterline and bow.

France herself seemed docked off 42nd Street,

A windy boulevard of flags, a hall

Of mirrors larger than Versailles filled

With families, couples, aloof aristocrats,

Loners in tuxedos staring at the waves,

Card players in capes and gowns, a score of chefs,

Waiters staggering across the Atlantic,

Bound west for Manhattan one more voyage,

A wine cellar the size of the Morgan

Library, an orchestra floating beside

Confounded seabirds strutting on lifeboats

Seating eighty.     

                       The Francophiles are gone,

Belloc, Repplier, Wallace Stevens, who loved

France forever, until death, loved her

For what she had been, not what she’d become.

The old Thomists are gone, Maritain, Gilson,

Marcel, who left Vichy on the Normandie

And watched her towed for scrap down the Hudson.

— Lawrence Dugan

This poem appears in the May 23, 2016, issue of National Review.

 

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

Recommended

The Latest