Smith, Stevie. (1902 - 1971).
L i f e
- born Florence Margaret Smith, nicknamed ‘Stevie’ for her resembling a jockey of that name
W o r k
- author of semi-autobiographical novels and poetry
- ostensibly simple poetry: uses subjects and expressions other poets might reject as trifles
- sentimentally attached to the Church of England x but: denounces its doctrines and priests
- preocuppied with loneliness, illness, and death
- immerses herself in mortality, whimsically greets Death as a ‘gentle friend’, and dwells almost gaily on the effects of physical and mental decay
Novel on Yellow Paper (1936), Over the Frontier (1938), and The Holiday (1949):
- her three published novels
- all of them slightly fictionalised accounts of her own life > brought her in troubles as some people recognized themselves
A Good Time Was Had By All (1937) and Tender Only to One (1938):
- poetry collections illustrated by her own naive drawings
Not Waving But Drowning (1957), Selected Poems (1962), and The Frog Prince (1966):
- mature poetry collections, won her reputation
> “Not Waving but Drowning”:
- describes the fundamental isolation of the poet from her audience
- uses the metaphor of a misapprehended swimmer dying at sea whose desparate gesturing is hold for friendly waving
> “Do Take Muriel Out”:
- seeks company for the lonely Muriel
- claims Muriel will appreciate an outing even with Death, even if the outing is to be her last one
“Come Death” I (1938):
- uses an Elizabethan title x avoids the echoes of Elizabethan melancholy and the mortal ambiguities of John Donne
- longs for extinction with an admixture of archaism and easy modern frankness
“Come Death” II (1971):
- written in her final illness
- a far more lyrical form and punchy simplicity than the earlier poem of the same title
AuthorFlorence Margaret Smith. Aka Stevie Smith. (1902 - 1971). British.
WorkPoet. Novelist. Author of "Not Waving but Drowning" (1957).
GenresModern poetry and fiction.
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"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."
From "Not Waving but Drowning" (1957).