The theme of the poem is grieving the death of the man in a very unique way. The title “Not Waving but Drowning” signifies a person who disguise how they feel to the people around them or maybe the people around choose not to look closer at the man drowning because they do not want to be bothered with saving the man. Line 7 states “It must have been too cold for him his heart gave away” the man gave up and let death consume him. The setting takes place in the first person the poet is having a conversation with the reader. Smith also repeats the title name twice giving the poem a patter, once in line 4 and line 12. Smith 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 ...
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...owly die in a cold body of water. 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 poet.
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