29 September 2016

Poetry Thursday - Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith

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.

- Stevie Smith (via)

Just when you're bereft of a poem, or flooded with too many to choose from, serendipity hands you something particular. As part of Radio 3's 70-years-of-the-Third-Programme celebration*, Stevie Smith was broadcast, from 1965, reading her now-famous Not Waving But Drowning.

And via youtube we have her discussing (and declaiming) the poem - "I read about a man getting drowned once" was how it got started.

Serendipity juxtaposed this poem with something else I'd been listening to recently, an old radio programme on the imposter syndrome. Made in 2009, re-aired on Radio 4extra; available on the BBC iplayer (in UK) for 29 days from time of writing, here. Doing your job, your best, but feeling like you might at any moment be exposed as an imposter - that would leave you "much further out" than anyone thought. In terms of everyday life, it's not uncommon. Keep on swimmin' ...

*Today Radio 3 is starting a series of short poetry readings from the archive, "Three Score and Ten", at 21.55, starting with Dame Edith Sitwell - " She reads a section from Façade, a series of poems Sitwell wrote to be recited over an instrumental accompaniment by composer William Walton. Then a complete change of tone with her poem Still Falls the Rain written in 1941."

1 comment:

Kathleen Loomis said...

So nice to read the whole poem ...

I just finished reading a Louise Penny book in which the first stanza was quoted many times but it was never identified or given in full, and I had forgotten the rest of it.