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Poem Of Chronic Despair Essay

810 words - 4 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

While reading the poem it becomes apparent that there are two voices telling the story. This is an unusual technique used by the author. It is almost as if one of the voices is detached. What the author gains by this is more depth to the poem. It now has more meaning and understanding. Smith wants the audience to grasp the idea that the poem is about the author. She therefore includes a second voice to achieve that goal.The audience for which this poem is intended is the reader. Stevie Smith is attempting to take a serious problem, possibly about her personal situation, and turn into an ironic situation about a man drowning. This poem is ironic because the author is trying to hide the true meaning of the poem. At first glance, the words are just there to express a situation of a man drowning. However, upon more serious evaluation, there is much depth and hidden meaning behind the words. For example, when the speaker says, ?I was much further out than you thought? (3), she means that all her life she was much more distraught than any of her friends or family cared to realize. When she says, ?And not waving but drowning? (4), she means that it was more serious than people knew. The speaker is asking for help here and not receiving it. Then when the narrator says, ??he always loved larking? (5), he attempts to bring attention to the speakers cry?s for attention to her loneliness but they are overlooked as larking. Also the words, ??cold always? (9), could is an attempt at explaining the authors position of chronic despair. Stevie Smith hides in this poem, what is the actual case. She does not do this though, in hopes to cheat or mislead her audience. Instead it is done in order to master special artistic effects. That is why this piece is a good example of irony.Poetry is a written form of expression. Sometimes it may only be a few lines long, but upon further examination of those few words, a story is told with depth, meaning, and emotion. This is especially the case within Stevie Smith?s poem, ?Not Waving but Drowning.? Smith is able to personalize this piece of poetry in a discrete manor. Although at first glance it seems as if the poem describes an elderly man drowning, upon further inspection we are able to conclude that it tells a story about a women?s chronic despair and loneliness. This is a great poem.

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