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"Not Waving but Drowning"

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Carol Poleth

on 16 August 2014

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Transcript of "Not Waving but Drowning"

"Not Waving but Drowning"
By: Stevie Smith

Poem Annotation
Title: "Not Waving but Drowning"
Author: Stevie Smith
Era: 1950’s
Literary Movement: Modernism
Country: England
Theme: Social commentary/critique, Persistence
Evidence: "It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way/ They said" (7-8).
Repetition of "Not waving but drowning".
Tone: Depressive, gloomy, reflective
Evidence: "(Still the dead one lay moaning)" (10).
Mood: Sorrowful, regretful
Evidence: "I was much further out than you thought" (3).
Historical Background
She was Britain's darkest poet.
She passed through a deep phase of depression, when she wrote this poem.
She had masculine traits.
While she was young, her father left to the North Sea Patrol.
She had a lot of trouble in getting her work published.
Overall Summary
He is misconceived by society even when he gives signs of help.
People still don’t see that something is wrong with him.
Everyone thinks he is okay but he’s actually hurting inside.
They think he was not strong enough to handle moments of indifference but in actuality he has always been excluded.

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.
Poetry Reading
Poem Paraphrasing
Lines 1-2:
There was no one who listened, to the dead man,
yet, even when dying he was still trying, by saying:

Lines 3-4:
I was a lot more lost than what you thought
I wasn't being nice, I was asking for help

Lines 5-6:
Poor man, he always loved enjoying himself
And now he is forever absent

Lines 7-8:
There must have been not enough sympathy towards him that his heart gave up
They stated.

Lines 9-10:
No! Actually, there wasn't sympathy at all my whole life
(The dead man still had something to say)

Lines 11-12:
I was so excluded all my existence
Certainly not having the time of my life, but rather claiming for aid
Figurative Language:
“Oh, no no no…” (9).
“And not waving but drowning” (4) (12).
“I was much too far out all my life” (11).
“And not waving but drowning” (4) (12).
“cold”, “moaning” (Also repetitive).
“Poor chap, he always loved larking” (5).
Carolina P. Gonzalez-Arias
Full transcript