shine on the titanic...
a narrative poem from
black american oral tradition

Shine on the Titanic is a narrative poem from black American oral tradition. Along with black folk sermons and lyrics of worksongs, spirituals, and blues, the toasts comprise an extraordinary body of folk poetry matched hardly anywhere in the world.

By saying the toasts are poems from oral tradition, I mean they may have had a number of authors rather than just one, or to put it another way, various audiences have had an opportunity to modify the points or parts they didn't much like. The process of modification may have occurred over a considerable number of years, by different hands at different times. That is one of the major differences between written poetry and folk poetry.