The poem of Steve Smith, “Not Waving but Drowning”, exemplifies the idea that the poet is not always the lyrical voice in a poem. The purpose of this statement resides in the importance of involving the reader in the situation that the poem is describing. For that reason, “Not Waving but Drowning” is a poem that through the use of different voices, figurative language and different meanings recreates a situation that is going to make the reader analyze it and get involved to deeply understand its meaning.
First of all, as one can perceived in the reading, there are two voices on the poem. On one hand, there is a voice interpreted by the “dead man”. It is possible to see, that this character appears at the beginning when is about to die and he is moaning and claiming for help, but nobody sees him, so he is not heard or understood. On the other hand, there is other voice which is represented by the bystanders or watchers of the situation.
These characters appear in the second stanza, when they know about the “dead man”.
They refer to him as a person who was happy and this reflection creates on the reader the notion that those watchers were friends or at least that they knew him. That is why, even though there are two different voices on the poem, it can be seen that they both have a relation and are complemented to involve the reader in the process of creation and lead him or her to a clearer interpretation of it. In addition to the factor of different voices, there is also the use of figurative language. This poem uses alliterations and metaphors that perfectly help the reader to understand the situations.
There is alliteration introduced in the first stanza by the first voice or “the dead man” and says: “I was much further out than you thought” (line 3), which can be a metaphor too further in the poem. If analyzing it literarily it means that the man was too far out on the sea, where the water is furious and colder. But if seeing it as a hidden meaning, it is that he was feeling out of everything, alone, with no friends and not involved with the real world, but shows a different face which seems to be the one of a happy man.
Also, there is a metaphor introduced by the second voice or the bystanders in the second stanza when the watchers talked about the dead man they say: “it must have been too cold for him his heart to give away” (line 7), which literarily means that probably the water was too cold, so his heart could not taken it. But, further in the poem, metaphorically means that the cold mentioned represents the state of the dead man, his feelings of depression, loneliness and sadness. Furthermore, when the dead man claims that he has been always that cold, it refers to his whole life and not just that moment.
It is his lonely life that nobody knew about because he never showed it. For these reasons, the reader can infer that the presence of figurative language helps to analyze the real meaning of the poem in order to better understand it. Lastly, as it was mentioned at the beginning, thanks to the appreciation of the two facts above, there are different interpretations of the poem, which makes the reader part of its creation. Those interpretations depend on how the reader gets involved in the lecture.
If the reader has the wrong idea that in a poem the poet is the only voice, them its interpretation is going to be misleaded and they will not understand the situation and the real intention of the poem. Also, if the reader does not do a close reading, he or she might never understand it. For instances, the poem could be interpreted as a poem about a man who was drowning and before dying he said that the waters are strong and cold. On the other hand, if deeply and closely analyzed his poem can be understood as a dialog that shows how a man before dying tries to explain the real reason of his death and how people did not really know him.
In other words, it is important to know how to interpret a poem through the analysis of its entire factors and to get involved in it. It is a fact that it is wrong to assume that the poet can be the only literal voice involve in a poem. That is because of analyzing all the factors mentioned before, like the voice, figurative languages and interpretations, this poem shows that first of all, the use of different voices makes the reader part of the poem.
Second of all, the use of metaphors or alliterations makes the reader active and presence while reading the poem. And finally, the combination of both well interpreted, gives to the reader the possibility of having different interpretations and meanings to choose. The poem of Stevie Smith is a clear example that the supremacy of the reader as part of the creation of a poem, is an excellent way to write a poem that will be enjoy by many people.
Cite this Not Waving but Drowning
Not Waving but Drowning. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/not-waving-but-drowning/