Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

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


(Photo: BBC).

  • Author

    Florence Margaret Smith. Aka Stevie Smith. (1902 - 1971). British.
  • Work

    Poet. Novelist. Author of "Not Waving but Drowning" (1957).
  • Genres

    Modern poetry and fiction.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


"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).


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