In the poem, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, written and preformed by Gordon Lightfoot, loss and environment are central themes. This is shown throughout the poem, as it tells the story of a freighter that sunk on the Great Lakes during a storm, were every crew member had sunk with the ship. The theme of loss is represented through not only the wreck of the freighter, but also by the twenty-nine men who had lost their lives while working on the ship. In the poem, there are many lines that present this theme, such as, “[a]t seven pm a main hatchway caved in, he said / Fellas it’s been good t’know ya / And later that night when his lights went outta sight / Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (Gordon Lightfoot, 27-30). The author expresses not only the physical wreck of the ship, but also the emotional burden that faced the aftermath of wreck, “[a]nd all that remains is the faces and the names / Of the wives and sons and the daughters” (Gordon Lightfoot, 39-40). This shares the importance to remember these men, as their families were left with loss.
The theme of environment is also made clear by the author, as he not only speaks of the physical setting of the Great Lakes that day, but the effects that this had on the ship and it’s members. This is expressed denotatively by the weather that day, “[w]hen the gales of November came slashin / When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain / In the face of a hurricane west wind” (Gordon Lightfoot, 20-24). The author illustrates the physical conditions that caused the freighter to sink. However, connotatively, the author through the physical setting that the author describes, it shares a feeling of panic, darkeness and cold, with the reader, not only setting a mood of sadness and loss, but also to relate the reader to what the members of the ship faced. This is warning us as individuals of the dangers that mother nature can cause, and to be cautious and prepared, “Could it be the north wind that they’d been felling?” (Gordon Lightfoot, 16). Warning to also listen to your gut.
Overall this poem shows the effects of loss, and how the environment can play a role in our destruction.
Collaberated with Izzy and Liv.