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Analysis Of Not Waving But Drowning

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“Not waving but drowning” is a poem by Stevie Smith about a man who is drowning but the people watching believe he is waving at them. This is symbolic of someone drowning in their own mind, but everyone around is fooled by the smile on their face. Smith battled her own physiological problems, she thought about suicide at the age of 8 and struggled with her father abandoning her. The poem is only 12 lines long and has almost a humorous tone considering the horror of watching a man die. The poet has little sympathy for the victim and uses the word “cold” numerous times. This implies that the man drowning hurt her in some type of way, and had a very cold heart. The theme of the poem is grieving the death of the man in a very unique way. The…show more content…
Smith discloses the young girl in the hand drawn illustration that is attached to the poem in her book, it shows a young girl with shoulder length hair and a slight smile on her face. The people watching the man in the water play an important role because they choose not to help the man and thought he was only waving at them. Maybe they did not want to be bothered with him and choose not to look closer at the situation. The poet wrote in the first person, and she was having a conversation with the reader. Line 7 states “It must have been too cold for him his heart gave away” the man gave up and let death consume him. Smith also repeats the title name twice giving the poem a patter, once in line 4 and line 12. Smith also wrote in line 3 “I was much farther out than you thought” but in line 11 write “I was much too far out of my life.” This is significant because it uncovers the symbolic meaning of the title, the reader first thinks that this poem is about a man drowning but in actually it is about a person drowning in their own mind and not sure how to ask for help. The man drowning was known of his larking, in line 5 which means to be playful and mischievous. This is what the people interpenetrated for waving and it ultimately cost the man his life. Smith wrote the poem to be simple for people to understand but complex enough to reveal to the reader there is more to…show more content…
Smith’s relationship with the man is unknown, but by the way she keeps using the words “cold” there is an underline issue. She is drowning in front of the world but no one is paying attention to her, maybe because she is misbehaving. That’s why the she wrote line 5 “he always loved larking” implying being mischievous. Smith was drowning in her own mind, and had to grieve the loss of her father by envisioning him drowning to death in water. “Not Waving but Drowning” is a poem about a young girl who is drowning in her own mind and not sure how to ask for help. Smith had many psychology problems at a young age even going as far as trying to commit suicide at the age of 8. This poem expresses Smith’s way of grieving over the loss of her father who was very cold hearted to her. The language used is very simple and personal to the