Not Waving But Drowning

Tonight we helped search for a man on the dark night lake yelling Help! Help! He went on and on yelling Help! It was scary. It was 1 a.m.  Some of us rowed toward his voice while others waited for the police to arrive. Turned out to be a guy in a canoe who had tipped over.  He was rescued by someone else, we couldn’t tell who it was so dark, and we went back to bed.  

Everyone deserves to be rescued.

Stevie Smith, we need Steve Smith for her wondrous poem about not-waving-but-drowning…

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.

Stevie Smith

7 comments on “Not Waving But Drowning

  1. ardency1976 says:

    I remember this poem, and have been trying to find the book it was printed in! Thank you for sharing, and what a scary experience!

  2. katytaylor says:

    wow, powerful! so glad he made it out alive. that must have been really scary! are we being invited to take the time to get a little closer so we can understand what the wave is really about? interesting–it challenges that desire to go on with my own life and not be derailed, but woudn’t i feel awful if it were a matter of life and death and i didn’t respond?

    • hi katy, nice to hear from you!
      i think on the surface level we are being invited to simply notice the poor fellow is drowning,

      and as metaphor, wow, it’s so powerful isn’t it? so many humans going through their day smiling and saying hello when underneath their smiles they might be emotionally drowning.

      and yes – perhaps every response everyday might be a matter of life and death. an amazing poem.

  3. I had never read the whole poem. Thank you. 😀 And thank goodness for the rescuers of the soggy canoe-er.

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