Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith
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When Stevie Smith died in 1971 she was one of the twentieth-century's most popular poets; many of her poems have been widely anthologised, and 'Not Waving but Drowning' remains one of the nation's favourite poems to this day.
Satirical, mischievous, teasing, disarming, her characteristically lightning-fast changes in tone take readers from comedy to tragedy and back again, while her line drawings are by turns unsettling and beguiling. In this wholly new edition of her work, Smith scholar Will May collects together the illustrations and poems from her original published volumes for the first time, recording fascinating details about their provenance, and describing the various versions Smith presented both on stage and page. Including over 500 works from Smith's 35-year career, The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith is the essential edition of modern poetry's most distinctive voice.
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
- 'Not Waving but Drowning'
pierce throat, I will come with you, I only used to think it was worth while living for the view. How beautiful the sky is that is bright blue Through the green leaves, and the sun warms through and through Before a man hangs they give him what he likes to eat, So you have given me what I like to see, the trees and no street, Now to the scaffold, Angel, do your part, I will come with you. (The angel stabs him to the heart.) As he lay bleeding his last into the untrod earth He smiled a
states’, peoples’, any group-mind’s preoccupation, That a girl in the service of her country at war Must have a mind as blank as a wall Apt only to carry The terms of her commission and hurry. Eugenie and I in an open deserted country Had travelled till nightfall of the third day When putting our horses at a hedge at the top of a hill, Up and over, We found ourselves under cover Of a mighty forest whose pines’ green needles Fallen carpeted the ground and silenced our horses’
mild. Our suburb then was more a country place They came to our house for release. In the convalescent Army hospital That was once a great house and landed estate Lay Basil, wounded on the Somme, But his pain was not now so great That he could not be fetched in a bath-chair Or hobble on crutches to find in our house there My mother and aunt, his friends on leave, myself (I was twelve) And a hearth rug to lie down in front of the fire on and rest himself. It was a November
war and personal defeat. The Georgie situation Was already sad. What could she do there? Nothing, But see him and be silent and so enrage, Or see him and speak, and the more enrage. The wise and affectionate Cynthia Must break the engagement and give back the ring. There is nothing but this that she can do. She takes up a post at London University And in lecturing and study passes the days. No more of that. She had read a paper to her pupils And fellow-dons, the subject is
pale and wan, fond lover?’ (1637), Thomas Hood, ‘The Two Swans’ (1824), and John Keats, ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ (1820), ll.7–8. Although Smith omitted the poem from SP, confessing to her editor at Longman, ‘I never really liked that “cake of soap”’ (UT, 28 April 1961), it was popular in performance, and was included in the 25-poem selection for PMP and in TFP: drawings were added for TFP. A 1960s performance script of the poem substitutes ‘wrapped’ for ‘hid’. ‘The Parklands’ (p. 38): retitled from