There's pushing and scrabbling,
not nearly enough lifeboats:
that much is obvious;
so why not spend the last few moments
practising our modest art
as we have always done,
creating a pool of possibly false comfort
in the midst of tragedy?
There's something to be said for it.
Picture us then in the ship's orchestra.
We all stay in our places,
tootling and strumming and marking time
with our workaday instruments
as the shouts and boots trample past.
Some have jumped; their furs and desperations
weigh them down. Clawed hands reach up through the ice.
What are we playing? Is it a waltz?
There's too much uproar
for the others to make it out clearly,
or else they're too far away —
an upbeat foxtrot, a sugary old hymn?
What ever it is, that's us with the violins
as the lights fade and the great ship slides down
and the water closes in.
- Margaret Atwood