Friday, January 12, 2007

Not Waving: Stevie Smith

" . . . if you brood too much about your own inspiration and other people's you will quite often find that you're unable to write at all . . . . It is like digging up plants to see how they are getting on: we all know what happens to the plants, they die."

— Stevie Smith discussing the genesis of her poem "Not Waving But Drowning." You can listen to her tell the story of where the poem came from (in her lilting, very English, reading voice) on The Poetry Archive here.

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.

-- Stevie Smith

4 comments:

With Hammer And Tong...The LetterShaper said...

I am glad to have stumbled on to this blog and found this here...wonderful piece.

early hours of sky said...

this is the first poem I ever read out loud. I was 12, and believed I understood it deeper than anyone else and it was beauty to me.

Thank you for posting this Peter

Peter said...

Hi H&T and T: Glad you enjoyed. I love Stevie Smith's work. She is a gem.

Brian Campbell said...

Loved the poem, and the quote. Will share with my partner, who is down on herself lately for not writing!