ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
Instructor: Hope Umansky
Not Waving but Drowning is a poem about a man who is drowning at sea. I think that he is drowning both literally and physically. The quotation, “I was much too far out all my life and not waving but drowning (Steve Smith, 1957/1972).”I get the sense that he made a couple of poor choices in his life and from a far he seemed to be to have it all together but internally he was a wreck. On the other hand, he could be speaking to the fact that he was maybe he didn’t know how to ask for help. The words spoken but the man who is dying signifies that he was so lost and disconnected. “Poor chap, he always loved larking and now he's dead It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, they said (Steve Smith, 1957/1972). As they speak of the drowning man, to me it sounds as if they feel sorry for him but it doesn’t sound like there is very much mourning going on for him. The “cold”, I think it refers to the water and to his heart. This man was lonely and it makes me wonder if he died of an actual drowning or if his death was self-inflicted. When it says, “his heart gave way (Steve Smith, 1957/1972).” It leaves me to wonder if he heart meant more than the heart in chest or is the poet speaking figuratively, heart, meaning his soul.It seems that the account of his death was so matter of fact. I enjoyed this poem. On a personal level, I thought about how I would be remembered when I die. I wouldn’t want to be remembered in this way. The man was remembered as lonely and cold. It is a terrible way to go.
Journey into Literature, R. Wayne Clugston, 2010