“ Not Waving but Drowning” by Stevie Smith is a particularly somber poem. The poem is about emptiness and shows what people will do to try to get attention. This poem is a metaphor comparing how the emptiness of our lives consuming us is like drowning. This poem is portrayed through the eyes of a man who just died. In the poem the man died by drowning, supposedly because he caught hypothermia but as he suggested he died because he was too far out in the water. What this translates to in real life is that this man was empty inside. In a vain attempt to try to fill this void, he “swam” further out only to become increasingly more and more empty. In the end the emptiness surrounded him and was “drowned in it. “Not waving but drowning” suggests that people saw him doing these thing yet took no notice of it because they thought it was him acting out: “he always loved larking,” but in reality they didn’t see the signs that he was consumed. “ It must have been too cold for him…” suggest that they believed he died because it was too risky for him but he refutes that saying, “it was too cold always,” as in it was always risky. He gives the alternate reason, “I was much to far out all my life and not waving but drowning.” This suggests he knew what he was doing yet he did it anyways trying to get attention yet everyone misinterpreted. I believe anyone can relate to this poem because it strikes an old chord in the human heart. Everyone is empty inside, and everyone has always tried going on a little “soul hunt” trying to find someone to truly notice them. But many have failed and end up “drowning” in their own emptiness and misery.
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