Not Waving but Drowning

Topics: Stanza, Poetry, Translation Pages: 3 (943 words) Published: June 16, 2013
NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING
BY STEVIE SMITH

NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING
BY STEVIE SMITH

The poem ‘Not Waving But Drowning’, by Stevie Smith, is a poem in which there is a drowning man at sea. In this poem, the poet is talking about the difficulty of communication and the fundamental isolation of the individual in modern society. The title of the poem gives us an immediate indication that the poem will tackle a serious matter. The poem contains three voices; the drowning man, the observers and the people on the beach. It can be interpreted on both a literal and metaphorical level of meaning. Stevie Smith (Florence Margaret) was born in Hull, Yorkshire. She was both a novelist and poet. Smith was born in 1902 and died in 1971 at the age of 41 years. Many of her poems are accompanied by her own doodles which illustrate her writing. She takes serious issues and cloaks them in humour, getting her point across in an inventive and clever way. She wrote in a variety of styles, ranging from ballad- like poetry to using the stream of consciousness technique. The poem is made up of three stanzas which consist of four lines each. In the entire poem, there is a simple rhyme scheme of ABCB in all of the three stanzas. The lines in the poem are all of irregular length. The first and the third stanzas are similar because in each of these stanzas both the drowning man and the persona can be heard speaking. In fact, the third and fourth lines in both stanzas are very similar in structure. The lines spoken by the persona in the third stanza is enclosed within brackets as if the persona is interrupting the drowning man’s speech. The second stanza contains the voice of the crowd with the exception of ‘They said’, which belongs to the persona. In the first stanza, the drowning man is not identified by name that remains an anonymous figure. This shows us that everybody is in danger of feeling isolated and misunderstood and could also emphasise the...
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