STEVIE SMITH (1902-1971) British poet, novelist Presented by Ümmügülsüm ACI
Stevie Smith was born in Hull in September 1902, the second daughter of Ethel and Charles Smith. She was christened Florence Margaret, but always called Peggy by the family. She acquired the name Stevie as a young woman when she was riding in the park with a friend who said that she reminded him of the jockey, Steve Donaghue.
“Why does my Muse only speak when she is unhappy?She does not, I only listen when I am unhappy. “ “ MY MUSE" • Stevie Smith studied at the North London Collegiate School for Girls. She was employed as a secretary at Newnes-Pearson, magazine publishers, for most of her life and also worked occasionally as a writer and broadcaster for the BBC. • Stevie Smith lived at the north London suburb of Palmers Green with her aunt, an eccentric character whom she called "the Lion". Her aunt died in 1968, aged 96. Smith never married.
Throughout her life she wrote poems, but she was also the author of a prose work, Novel on Yellow Paper (1936), which took the form of an entertaining, largely autobiographical monologue. Her other novels include The Holiday (1949), the story of a failed love affair. She also published short stories, essays and literary reviews.
However, Smith is primarily known as a poet. Eccentric, mischievous, often disturbing, these short pieces contain beneath their lighthearted surfaces an undertone of loneliness, boredom and death. • Her best-known poem is the title piece in the collection Not Waving but Drowning (1957), a line that has entered public consciousness; but her reputation was already established in 1937 by the collection A Good Time Was Had By All. In the 1960s, she was a popular figure at poetry readings and made a number of radio broadcasts and recordings. • In 1975, 4 years after her death, Smith's Collected Poems was published, illustrated by her own witty doodle-sketches of men, women and animals. Stevie, a play based on her life, was staged in 1977 with Glenda Jackson and was later made into a film (1978).
POETRY • This Englishwoman (?,1937) • A Good Time Was Had By All (Cape, 1937 • Tender Only to One (Cape, 1938) • Mother, What Is Man? (Cape, 1942) • Harold's Leap (Cape, 1950) • Not Waving but Drowning (Deutsch, 1957) • Selected Poems (Longmans, 1962) includes 17 previously unpublished poems • The Frog Prince (Longmans, 1969) includes 69 previously unpublished poems • The Best Beast (Longmans, 1969) • Two in One (Longmans, 1971) reprint of Selected Poems and The Frog Prince • Scorpion and Other Poems (Longmans, 1972) • Collected Poems (Allen Lane, 1975) • Selected Poems (Penguin, 1978)
NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING Stevie 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.
Meaning – literal and metaphorical Not waving but drowning! The “death” we suffer from being ignored, neglected and rejected by one another
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 coldalways (Still the dead one lay moaning) I was much too far out all my life And not waving but drowning.
References: • http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=7089 • http://www.eliteskills.com/c/12713 • http://22.214.171.124/classes/humanities/britlit/97-98/smith/smith3.htm • http://www.slideshare.net/mropoetry/not-waving-but-drowning-presentation • http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1634329/not_waving_but_drowning_analysis.html • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevie_Smith