Not Waving but Drowning

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Not Waving but Drowning

By Liseth Cordero V.

The poem of Steve Smith, “Not Waving but Drowning”, exemplifies the idea that the poet is not always the lyrical voice in a poem. The purpose of this statement resides in the importance of involving the reader in the situation that the poem is describing. For that reason, “Not Waving but Drowning” is a poem that through the use of different voices, figurative language and different meanings recreates a situation that is going to make the reader analyze it and get involved to deeply understand its meaning.

First of all, as one can perceived in the reading, there are two voices on the poem. On one hand, there is a voice interpreted by the “dead man”. It is possible to see, that this character appears at the beginning when is about to die and he is moaning and claiming for help, but nobody sees him, so he is not heard or understood. On the other hand, there is other voice which is represented by the bystanders or watchers of the situation. These characters appear in the second stanza, when they know about the “dead man”. They refer to him as a person who was happy and this reflection creates on the reader the notion that those watchers were friends or at least that they knew him. That is why, even though there are two different voices on the poem, it can be seen that they both have a relation and are complemented to involve the reader in the process of creation and lead him or her to a clearer interpretation of it.

In addition to the factor of different voices, there is also the use of figurative language. This poem uses alliterations and metaphors that perfectly help the reader to understand the situations. There is alliteration introduced in the first stanza by the first voice or “the dead man” and says: “I was much further out than you thought” (line 3), which can be a metaphor too further in the poem. If analyzing it literarily it means that the man was too far out on the sea, where the water...
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