A poem by Stevie Smith

By | February 5, 2012

This has always been my favourite poem, we studied it in English Literature at school. Little did I know that years later, I would still relate to it so much.

So…to get over any plagiarism accusations, the following poem was written by Stevie Smith 1903-1971, and I take no credit for it:

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.”

The title “Not waving but drowning” sums up how I feel at times when dealing with “professionals” in relation to what may or may not be best for D, and many other aspects of this varied autism spectrum.

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Deb at aspie in the family on 5th February 2012 at 4:31 pm.

Hello Jeanette; its Deb from @MumForAutism. Its a fab poem that sums how I feel at the moment. Glad to see you’re blogging; will add you to my blogroll. Hope you find it as therapeutic as I. Deb x


bluecrisps on 11th February 2012 at 3:36 pm.

I do! its a very good way of getting things out of your system, extremely therapeutic. I now have a blogging list 😉


havantacluotmp on 18th February 2012 at 12:13 pm.

This is a great poem about the majority of people with any mental health/autistic/aspergers problem. Here’s another, which you may not have seen because it’s on a blog, not published though I think it should be:

You don’t see it, but some days
I drag moonlit danger behind me like a veil of milky dust
casting itself off of my crown. I balance
armies of fire on the backs of my arms and
use them for wings. I hear
the stars rubbing their legs together for the want of music
and hanging gold fiddled notes on Venus’ earlobes. They
chime, making love in the solar wind.
I strap bass lines onto my back;
wrap chain mail angels around my chest;
strap thunderclouds to the soles of my feet;
and I dance.

You wouldn’t know it,
but I have a thousand Heavens
and just as many Hells burning inside. You see
the computer mind, but not the
glass shatter heart. I sometimes wonder
if I am a transparent kachina in your line of sight, if you can
already see how much I burn; but you
always prove me wrong. You
try to unzip me, and see my eyes fleeing away from you
like startled ponies. Do you really
know me? If you did, you would know that
if I look at you too long, I might burst.

But you don’t know. And how can I tell you?
I consult the dictionary of human behavior every day.
I had to load it into my brain and make it learn
that you open doors with hello and
that you close them with goodbye. I had to learn
the mechanics of when to smile, when to laugh.
If I like you, I tear encyclopedia pages and pictures from off my walls
to give to you as gifts. And if I were to love you, I might
serenade you with music channeled from the
stereo installed into my brain that I first noticed
when I was ten.
But small talk still feels like grease on my
fingertips. And some days, I hear
my own voice rendered in Greek and wonder
when I will speak my own tongue again.

So I will speak my own dialect of
encyclopedia notes, photographs, trivia bank entries,
badly sung covers of the originals, words shaped
like arrows. There may be no smiles, no
dance of our eyes, no oil between us to make things
easier. That’s not how I work, and I am
not ashamed of this. And maybe some day, you will
see me dance.

© 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
Original poem published February 23, 2010 on Raven’s Wing Poetry


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