Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Found a New (to Me) Poet!

All poetry has to do is to make a strong communication. All the poet has to do is listen. The poet is not an important fellow. There will also be another poet.

I don't think Auden liked my poetry very much, he's very Anglican.

Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith was an English poet and novelist. When she was very young her father went away to sea; she developed tubercular peritonitis and spent three years in a sanatorium; her mother died and she was left, along with her sister Molly, to be raised by her aunt, nicknamed "The Lion Aunt." If that's not the childhood of a poet, I don't know what is.

Ms Smith learned to value her independence, an unusual thing in Victorian England, but because of her childhood experiences she was dogged by depression her all her life. She worked as private secretary to Sir Neville Pearson at Newnes Publishing Company in London until suffering a nervous breakdown, and she died of a brain tumor at 69.
She wrote three Novels: Novel on Yellow Paper (1936) * Over the Frontier (1938) * The Holiday (1949)

And then there's her Poetry: This Englishwoman (1937) * A Good Time Was Had By All (1937) * Tender Only to One (1938) * Mother, What Is Man? (1942) * Harold's Leap (1950) * Not Waving but Drowning (1957) * Selected Poems (1962, W/ 17 previously unpublished poems) * The Frog Prince (1966, W/ 69 previously unpublished poems) * The Best Beast (1969) * Two in One (1971, reprint of Selected Poems and The Frog Prince) * Scorpion and Other Poems (1972) * Collected Poems (1975) * Selected Poems (1978) * New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith (1988)
How about a few samples:

Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,   
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought   
And not waving but drowning.

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.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always   
(Still the dead one lay moaning)   
I was much too far out all my life   
And not waving but drowning.

In My Dreams

In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,   
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,   
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.

In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
And they give me the stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,   
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don't know what I think.

Do Not!

Do not despair of man, and do not scold him,   
Who are you that you should so lightly hold him?   
Are you not also a man, and in your heart
Are there not warlike thoughts and fear and smart?   
Are you not also afraid and in fear cruel,
Do you not think of yourself as usual,
Faint for ambition, desire to be loved,
Prick at a virtuous thought by beauty moved?   
You love your wife, you hold your children dear,   
Then say not that Man is vile, but say they are.   
But they are not. So is your judgement shown   
Presumptuous, false, quite vain, merely your own   
Sadness for failed ambition set outside,
Made a philosophy of, prinked, beautified   
In noble dress and into the world sent out
To run with the ill it most pretends to rout.
Oh know your own heart, that heart's not wholly evil,   
And from the particular judge the general,   
If judge you must, but with compassion see life,   
Or else, of yourself despairing, flee strife.

These poems are from: The New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith. Copyright 1988. Collected PoemsBest Poems.
SOURCES: Poem Hunter. Poetry Foundation. The Poetry Archive. Poets.Org.

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