Not Waving but Drowning (Poem by Stevie Smith)

"Not Waving but Drowning" Facts:
  • Poem by British poet Stevie Smith (1902-1971).
  • Published in 1957 as part of a collection of the same title.
  • The most famous of Stevie Smith's poems.
  • The poem describes a man whose animated thrashing in the sea causes onlookers to believe that he is waving to them.
  • The poem also has an accompaning drawing by Smith, showing a female figure.
  • The relationship of the poem to Smith has been analysed in several articles.
  • Smith had been treated for psychological problems, and had also considered suicide at age eight years (her father had abandoned her).
  • Some authors suggest that the drowning man is Smith herself.
  • It has also been suggested that the poem is a cry for help by Smith.

Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

by Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith "Not Waving but Drowning" Poem Movie Animation

The audio track was Recorded at the Edinburgh Festival in 1965 at a time when the Stevie Smith was experiencing a resurgence of interest in her work. She was giving plenty of readings around that time.

Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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