In the poetry of Margaret “Stevie” Smith (1902-1971), life and death are constantly being juxtaposed. For Smith, life was usually a painful or tedious experience and death a blessed escape from its misery and futility. Having had a religious upbringing, she is also much preoccupied with God, but cannot accept traditional Christian teaching about redemption and heaven. Death is seen as an end, rather than a beginning and a relief, instead of a gateway to a reward. In “Not Waving but Drowning”, Smith’s philosophy of life as a pointless and sad experience for many people, is focused on the event of a drowning man. In the style of the poem, she writes characteristically, here, in the off-hand, irregular lyricism - often bordering on the conversational - which is the distinctive feature of her manner.
“Smith was born in Yorkshire, England but lived all but the first three years of her life in her aunt’s house in Palmers Green, London” (Washington University Libraries). She went to work at a publishing office owned by George Newnes, Ltd. soon after her graduation from North London Collegiate School (Washington Univeristy Libraries). Although continuing to write through the 1940’s and 1950’s her work was ignored by critics and the public until about the last ten years of her life (Washington Univeristy Libraries). Smith received the prestigious Queen's Gold Medal award for her poetry in 1969, two years before her death (Washington Univeristy Libraries).
Smith uses simple, short sentences, “barely audible” to express “feelings such as emotional pain, tenderness, sadness, loss, and despair” (Sternlicht 63). “Not Waving but Drowning” is saturated with...
... middle of paper ...
...na, alliteration, tone, and theme the poet would have clearly had the daunting task of conveying her message to us with rather unfamiliar and impossible alternative methods. The poet’s method instead allows her to fully express the true experience of a melancholy and humorously comedic approach to death and inevitably “her own extinction” as well as our own (Sternlicht 95).
Smith, Stevie. “Not Waving But Drowing.” Literature: Reading, Reating, Writing. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. 4th ed. Florida: Harcourt College Publishers, 2001. 992.
Sternlicht, Sanford. In Search of Stevie Smith. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1991.
- - -. Stevie Smith. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.
“Stevie Smith, 1902-1971, British Author” Dictionary of Literary
Biography. 1978. Washington University Libraries, Washington. 3 Mar. 2002 .
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- David Smith English 211 Craig Sanders 03 December 2014 The Good Side to Humor “Why can’t you play Uno with a Mexican. Because they steal all the green cards” (Kickass Humor). Most people would find this joke funny, even a few Mexicans would find this funny. However, there will be some people that would take offense from this joke. Then again, it seems as though no matter what the case is there will always be critics. In some cases humor can be looked at as bad or a waste of time but there is a good side to humor.... [tags: Comedy, Humor, Joke, Defence mechanism]
2429 words (6.9 pages)
- I am not funny. If you were to ask my friends, they would inform you that I am only funny when I am not trying to be, as in the times when I trip and fall (which happens more often than I would like) or perform some other unintentional folly. If you were to ask someone else who doesn’t know me well, I am certain that “awkward” or “quiet” would be the words chosen to describe me far more often than “hilarious”. When I do try to be funny, I am generally aware that my jokes are bad; I rely on corniness and silly mannerisms rather than wit to elicit laughter.... [tags: Humor ]
1959 words (5.6 pages)
- Even though Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb screened in the midst of the sobering Cold War, critics were keen on praising the film for its mastery of humor applied to such a sensitive matter. The film is exceedingly loaded with metaphors, innuendos, and allusions that nothing can be left undissected or taken for face value; the resulting effect is understood to be part of Kubrick’s multifarious theme. Kubrick has stated that what began as a “the basis for a serious film about accidental war ” eventually birthed an absurd and farcical classic comedy.... [tags: Film Review]
1256 words (3.6 pages)
- ... Finding the humor in your mistake makes it easier to accept yourself for who you and saves you from beating yourself up about a situation you had no control over and is in the past. Humor is also very useful in communicating with and teaching others. Many teachers use humor in their lessons because when you teach through humorous antics it imprints on students brains and leaves a positive impression on students. In a research paper by Zak Stambor, he claims that using humor in lessons produces physiological and physical benefits that help students learn.... [tags: Laughter, Comedy, Humour, Humor]
1062 words (3 pages)
- ... In his constant calls, he asks the couple if they had forgotten their “Scotty” cake, reminding them of the tragedy they face. In “Whoever was using this bed” Carver shows dark humor in the occurrence of the drunk woman calling the couple in the middle of the night, requesting to speak to a “Bud”, which prompts a late night morbid discussion between the narrator, Jack, and his wife, Iris. Thus, in both of these short stories, Carver uses dark humor to discuss the mortality of the characters. In “A Small Good Thing” this usage of dark humor in relation to the characters of the story can be seen whenever the parents, Ann and Howard, leave their son Scotty, who is in an indeterminate conditi... [tags: Comedy, Short story, Black comedy, Woman]
1157 words (3.3 pages)
- I delve into this research project hoping to acquire more information about humor and language. What makes some things funny and others not. How much of humor is based on culture or intellectual development. What I found was that no one really knows these answers yet. What there has been research on is humor and communication. To narrow my focus further, I chose to examine research papers relating specifically to intercultural communication through humor. I picked two studies to analyze which cover opposite ends of the intercultural humor spectrum.... [tags: Communication ]
1348 words (3.9 pages)
- A good way that people describe a society would have to be through satirical devices. Voltaire is one of those many authors that use humor through his book, Candide, in order to make fun of his society. This is satirical books depicts many different topics in a society. To begin with in the book Candide, the main character goes through a series of adventures and murders in order to preserve his love to Cunegonde. Then again Candide can’t go through all of this without his partner D.r Pangloss from the beginning of the book.... [tags: Society, Humor, Satirical Devices, Voltaire]
1489 words (4.3 pages)
- Black Humor in Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle The phrase Black Humor has the broad meaning of poking "fun at subjects considered deadly serious or even taboo by some"2. This definition is simple, and yet embodies an important idea that is often lost in more complex definitions: the idea that Black Humor can actually be "fun", and provoke laughter. This is not, of course, the only important aspect of the term, and I shall explore some of the other important defining features of Black Humor before moving on to discuss its use in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle3.... [tags: Cat's Cradle Essays]
3853 words (11 pages)
- The Story of Stevie Stevie is the story about a young boy who overcame a lot of obstacles to become one of the best workers that his field ever had. Stevie has his boss quoted was " short, a little dumpy, with the smooth facial features and a thick tongued speech of down syndrome." His boss even used to be worried to he wouldn't work out, that all the people that go there to dine that weren't truckers would not like him very much. So for the first couple of weeks his boss watched him a lot, and made sue that he was doing everything right.... [tags: Papers]
344 words (1 pages)
- Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder has been a major figure within the Black Music scene over the last forty years. Stevie Wonder was born Steveland Judkins on May13, 1950, however, he now prefers to be known as Steveland Morris after his mother's married name. He was blind at birth. The cause was the prematurity of the eye. Blood vessels in the back of the eye hadn't reached the front of the eye thus when he was born, prematurely, that growth temporarily stopped then wildly took off branching out in the Vitreous of the eye.... [tags: Papers]
888 words (2.5 pages)