I remember the title of today’s poem by Steve Smith from my schooldays but have no strong memory of reading the poem until many years later. But it always made me smile, then feel guilty for smiling.Because of copyright restrictions I am unable to reproduce the poem in full, but please search it out in an anthology or at your local library.
‘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.
Stevie Smith [1902-1971] was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, and knowing that made a big impression on me: born in East Yorkshire, 1960. The fact that her family moved to London when she was three didn’t stop me seeing her as a Yorkshire role model. Her poetry never seemed to fit a label and she seems to have been rather overlooked. I love her rather dry wit. My copy of Selected Poems was bought in October 1981, I know this as I have written my name and the date on the inside front cover. The green cover design [below] is still a favourite of mine. To watch a 1950s seaside film as Stevie Smith recites ‘Not Waving But Drowning’, click here.
To read Stevie Smith’s biography at The Poetry Foundation, click here.
‘Selected Poems’ by Stevie Smith [UK: Penguin Classics]
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A poem to read in the bath: ‘Not Waving but Drowing’ by Stevie Smith http://wp.me/p5gEM4-16j via @SandraDanby