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Not Waving but Drowning

Not Waving but Drowning

  

by Stevie Smith

Analysis: Calling Card

Macabre Humor

Stevie Smith is as obsessed with death as Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath, but if you're reading a morbid poem that makes you giggle, chances are you're reading a Smith poem. She often uses verse forms from nursery rhymes or plays with rhythm and slant rhyme to steal a smile; she also loves to use deliberately inappropriate diction to puncture the overly serious subject of mortality. Here she pokes fun at both the dead man's self-centered melancholy and the onlookers' insensitivity. She's the poet most likely to make her neighbors laugh at a boring funeral. Even if it's her own.

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