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(20 September 1902 – 7 March 1971 / Kingston upon Hull)

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Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
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Comments about this poem (I Do Not Speak by Stevie Smith )

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  • Jenna Gazarek (12/19/2006 12:14:00 PM)

    I think that it may be the opposite. I think that this man (in the poem) was seriously depressed, but no one around him noticed. 'Nobody heard him, the dead man, But still he lay moaning; ' he was trying to reach out but no one heard him. He wasn't physically dead, but emotionally. As someone who has personal experience with depression I understand that sometimes no matter how loud you scream, no one hears you.

    27 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Mark Burnette (5/10/2006 5:57:00 PM)


    Stevie is not a he; Stevie is a she. Or rather, Stevie was a she. I think people are losing any sense of empathy, compassion. Any time someone feels meloncholy, isolated, people respond by suggesting the person see a psychiatrist to diagnose the 'problem, ' which is always assumed to be something internal, a chemical imbalance or some such.

  • qwe rty (5/9/2006 8:33:00 AM)

    To me it it describes stevie. He was having problems and not calling out for help but rather 'drowning' as he put it. sorry Carole Burr but i don't think it means we're all alone but instead stevie was all alone.

  • Carole Burr (2/19/2006 9:22:00 AM)

    This is a very sad poem. It seems to be saying that essentiallly we are all alone, and that nobody can really know the extent of another's sense of isolation.

  • Linda Preston (4/20/2005 8:24:00 AM)

    A classic by an overlooked poet

  • Michael Shepherd (3/4/2005 11:05:00 AM)

    Dear Stevie,

    I remember hearing you read this poem and can almost taste the hearing of it...

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