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Not Waving But Drowning

Stevie Smith

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Awesome and touching
Added by: Donna
i read this poem 5yrs ago and it's one i have never forgotten, it is an awesome poem and very powerful, it makes you stop and question your own life and behaviour, i mean would you want to end your life with thoughts like that on your mind? As a whole we are a bad society and always push people away, read this poem then just stop and think!!
*sigh* the stupidity or freshman
Added by: fo smith
we had to read that in my freshman english class and when asked to talk about the poem i rasied my hand and sais it was about suicide. i said it was about a guy who just couldn't take it anymore and offed himself. it's about how no one realized what was going on because everyone took his actions to mean something else. and then when he died everyone thought it was so sudden and all but it wasn't. so i said this and my class kinda stared at me and then went on to talk about how they thought it was about a guy who watched some other guy drown but he survived..... *sigh* some people...
Added by: Everett
This poem is very interesting! I'm a college freshman and am about to write a report on some of the many interpretations that can be arrived at when reading this poem... So far, I've come up with 4 interpretations.

A man who had become lost in his lonliness could not take the rejection and turmoil that it caused any longer. So now he wears a permanent facade to hide his emotions. The man is just longing to be heard as he was in the past, but no one will pay attention to him. Now he ignores everyone because no one seems to care about him.

Alcohol Abuser:
A man who had a dependency on alcohol was a prolific drinker. He ignored the signs of his drinking and always drank too much. This was his cry for help. But no one cared to take the time to talk to him before it was too late. This time he overdid it and he's lying on the floor feeling like he's dying, hoping he would, but wishing things were the way they used to be,... and no one will help him.

Poverty-stricken man:
A single man has inherited a large sum of debt. His debt has overcome him and he's had a stroke. There he lies, paralyzed on the floor about to go into heart failure because he's "drowning" in debt, abandoned in his hour of need, and left to die with his thoughts.

19th Century African Slave:
No body "heard" his cries for help because the only people around were his masters. He used to frolic and play until his parents were beaten to death. Now all he does is back talk his masters and try to escape. But not this time!!! The master had had enough and beaten him until he was close to death and then him for dead. The master knew that there would be no more larking at his expense and so did the slave as he lay there drowning in his own pool of blood.
Added by: high school senior
i loved this poem...i felt like i could really relate to it. i think it's about someone who doesn't like life and is depressed and "drowning" in their trials and tribulation. and their not "waving" because they dont want help, or dont want other people to know they are suffering. therefore, know one even knows they are "drowning" and anything is wrong and so no one helps them. and all along they needed it. anyways...that's just my interpretation...
Added by: sophie
I first read part of this poem in a book called blue, its about a girl who commits suicide and part of the poem was part of her suicide not e she said it described how she felt its a very good poem it expresses peoples emotions and feelings but they are hiddin not seen
Added by: Yu Lin Wang
I found this poem fairly mediocre. But i wanted to say this:

In china, this year, at a swimming pool, a boy who could not swim, was drowning, and noone went to save him( for some reason). And the owner was shouting "Someone save him!" and this man says "Yep I will but only if you gimme 1000 yuan afterwards." The tight owner then said "i'll give you 200." And they just bargained and bargained and the boy died.

Added by: Dave
I didn't care much for this poem, but then again, I don't care much for any poetry. Another thing that I've noticed about all of the responses to these poems are that although you people say that you are a senior in university or high school, you'd think that a senior would be able to type a few lines without making a mistake. I'm 12 in grade 7, I'm not even trying here and I think I'm doing an ok job. The poem was good, but I don't plan on reading it again any time soon.
Added by: Cary
This poem describes how I have felt so many times. Severely depressed, reaching out to friends for help, and not being taken seriously. Or maybe they just don't want make the effort. The only lifeguards (or lifesavers) are the ones who are trained (and paid) to respond, those who have made a profession in life saving. Everyone else takes lightly the pleas for help, the frantic "waving" , not fully understanding the danger that confronts you. Finding friends and loved ones unwilling or unable to recognize the signs of drowning, squeezes even more air from your lungs and lets the water rush over you. Slowly sinking.
Amazing poem
Added by: Emma
I have to choose a poem to put forward for a collective anthology for my English Literature course at Uni, and I came across this. Although it is at first glance simplistic, I think it carries so much meaning. It is so easy to be self-absorbed and not notice what friends and family and people in general are going through internally, this poem encapsulates the misunderstandings that can come of human secrecy and self-doubt. It is a beautiful poem whose sentiments will stay with me.
human nature
Added by: Jazmin
I really liked this poem. It expressed a very true fact about human nature. On the outside, people might seem as if they are happy, or doing just fine. But really they are miserable and alone. And when poeple do realize that there is actually something wroong with that person, it is often too late....

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