Dasein, Red Elephant.

Not Waving But Drowning

Not Waving but Drowning
Stevie Smith

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.

This poem is really hip. It’s totally black out wicked tongue-in-cheek manic depression. Like a secret suddenly blurted out and stoically defended against no one in particular.

Some have said it’s a call for help but I didn’t see it that way. It’s more about the difference between appearance and reality. A secret life of sorrow and instability hidden behind a facade of ‘larking’.

It’s not so much a desperate plea but a calm acceptance of chronic emotions along with a depth of alienation that couldn’t possibly be easily communicated to others. There’s some unintended antisociality in this individualistic sorrow; Hey, I wasn’t waving to you .. I was bloody drowning.

A fanpage for Stevie Smith. Link

Stevie Smith Bio, links and poem. Link

Stevie does great illustrations for her book of poems. I’ve recently got her last volume of poetry, Scorpion and Other Poems and they’ve got little cute melancholic kiddie-ish doodles in it.

Some Illustrations by Stevie

Stevie Smith Book Cover



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  1. * chapiglet says:

    cute illustrations! I like the lady on the top…nice eyes on her!

    | Reply Posted 12 years, 8 months ago

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