The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald is a ballad with themes of environment, and loss. It covers the affects of the environment and the dangers they may pose, and a sense of how badly a tragedy can effect a wide group of people. In the poem, the Edmund Fitzgerald is a boat that gets caught in a storm and kills all the men aboard the boat.
The theme of environment is present throughout the whole poem. Edmund Fitzgerald is a boat on Lake Superior in Ontario. The conditions are harsh and intense, and come hard down onto the men. The environment sweeps them up and essentially kills all the men on the boat. “When the gales of November came slashin’, when afternoon came it was freezin’ rain, in the face of a hurricane west wind.” (22-24). The storm came in November and it caused the boat to disappear and the sailors to die. The poem comes as a warning to always be aware of the storms ahead, and to make sure you are prepared and safe.
The theme of loss is another big part of this ballad. In the poem, the 29 sailors on the Edward Fitzgerald are killed. This loss is not subjected to the sailors, it affects all the lives of their families and friends. “The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times, for each man on the Edward Fitzgerald.” (51,52) It was a huge loss on Lake Superior, and the news travelled throughout Canada making it a bigger loss than just 29 sailors. It is important to remember these men as their lives impacted so many around them. It affects their families and community: “And all that remains is the faces and the names/ Of the wives and the sons and the daughter” (39-40) Their lives must be remember for all that couldn’t be, and for the families who suffered from the loss.