None know the reason, in the sullen morning,
Bearing its precious cargo, Jeju-bound,
Off the Korean coast, with little warning,
The Sewol sunk, its children carried drowned.
The ferry was proceeding overnight
Conveying students toward their holiday,
When, without reason, world which had been right
Suddenly capsized; life began to fray.
In panic-stricken moments, did the crew
Handle disaster with pervading calm?
Mistakes were made; the right course no one knew,
As what ensued, may never find true balm.
Told to don their life vests, but stay inside,
Below deck, when the vessel listed, flipped,
They had no place to go, and so they died,
As steel that sailed, submerged became their crypt.
The hulk went down, within the cold and wet,
While some, by chance or fortune, slipped away
To rescue, these the few: the ocean yet
Makes mockery of men on holiday.
“Criminals!” cried the president, and this
Echoed the feelings of the throng bereaved;
For certainly the crew had been remiss,
As accusations with laments were heaved.
Chaos of indecision! In the moment
Sudden disaster strikes, there is no calm,
As justice thwarted drove the general comment:
Surely adults must save children from harm!
Yet some among the dying, helped to usher
Young passengers toward safety, or its hope
Within a world of peril, that is crusher
Of dreams with ocean poundage hard to cope.
Vice principal Kang Min-gyu, who was leader
Of students from his school, felt the regret
That he was rescued, while no interceder
Saved hundreds of his children from the wet--
He hung himself, in somber aftermath
Taking responsibility, requesting
That at that site of terror, trial and wrath
His ashes might be scattered, self investing
By his death with their deaths to intermingle.
Thus are the fates of men—of girls and boys--
Amidst a world of peril: each dies single,
Most fraught in happenstance devoid of poise.
While the efficient cause a ferry sunk
Time may determine, none the greater cause
Understand—yet the bitter wave gets drunk
Regardless in compliance with heaven’s laws.