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Not Waving But Drowning Analysis

Author: poem of Stevie Smith Type: poem Views: 10

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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.


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Stevie Smith is a poet from the time in England that the great plague struck and her father was one of its victims, this poem is about her father and how much she misses him.

| Posted on 2010-11-22 | by a guest

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This poem is about human isolation to misery and the refusal or failure to communicate this misery as well as the inability of others to register ones actual state.
the dead man in line one could be confusing, but it is important to understand that it is not a literal death, but rather a figurative one - one of emotional desolation and isolation. "Dead man" signifies his cutting off from other people and his moaning might not literally be occuring, but resonating in the memory of others. it also shows his continuing attempt to communicate his anguish.
the spectators 'on shore' always thought he was joking, because "he always loved larking" but what they mistook to be expressive of happiness was actually a signal that he was miserable, depressed and unhappy and now that he's dead it's too late for anyone to do anything about it.

| Posted on 2008-08-24 | by a guest

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