Poem Of Chronic Despair

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Poem of Chronic Despair ?Not Waving but Drowning,? by Stevie Smith, is a poem about chronic despair and underlying pain. Smith uses poetry as a way to express her own feelings and desires. In this poem though, she misleads the reader by using terms such as he, him, and his, inferring that the poem is speaking about someone else. However, I believe that Smith is using this wording as a decoy for her own opinions, thoughts, and ways of thinking. Stevie Smith was known for taking serious issues and expressing them in hidden ways; as was the case in ?Not Waving but Drowning.? When asking the question, who is the speaker of the poem, it becomes apparent that there is something unusual about that. It seems as if there are two speakers. I believe the first one to be the author herself, Stevie Smith. I came to this conclusion by the use of the word I, when she says, ?I was much further out?? (3).

Here I believe the author is the speaker because the words are expressed as if the author is participating in the poem. However there are also lines in the poem that are spoken in third person; which is why I believe that there is another speaker. The second speaker is believed by me to be the narrator who comes in to give more meaning to the author?s emotional state of loneliness. ?Nobody heard him, the dead man, /But still he lay moaning:? (1, 2), by this the narrator is explaining the mental condition of the speaker. She is lonely and is asking for attention but no one will give is to her so she is dead inside and remains unhappy and crying until someone hears her.

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