"Not Waving but Drowning"

  1. From what point(s) of view is the poem told? What effect is created by shifting the narrative voice?
  2. What is the meaning of the title? What is the poem's subject? Is the "poor chap"'s death important, and why? Is the absence of explanatory detail effective?
  3. What are the poem's features of rhyme and rhythm? How do they mirror its contents? What effect is created by repetition?

"No Categories"

  1. What is the poem's subject? What is its tone?
  2. Why does the speaker dislike "Angels"? What do they seem to symbolize?
  3. How are stanza and line length used to reinforce the poem's meaning? How are repetition, rhyme, and rhythm used to convey Smith's point?

"Was He Married"

  1. What is surprising about the title? Why do you think Smith chose it?
  2. What are some features of the poem's style? What effects are created by its short stanzas, rhymes, and question-and-answer format?
  3. What are the ways Smith finds the historical/legendary Jesus inadequate to serve as a deity? What explanation does she give for the creation of divinities? What are the advantages to this deity?
  4. What does Stevie Smith suggest should be the focus of human belief?

"The Wanderer"

  1. What effect is created by the poem's meter and rhyme scheme? How does it embody the poem's subject?
  2. Who is the Wanderer? Is she alive? Does her spirit have any symbolic implications?

"Thoughts about the Person from Porlock"

  1. What is the poem's subject? Why does the author choose a meditation on "the Person from Porlock" to convey her thoughts?
  2. What are some unusual features of the poet's voice and tone? What effect is created by the use of questions? Why does the speaker wish for an interruption to her thoughts?
  3. What are humorous elements of the poem?
  4. What seems to be the speaker's state of mind in the final stanza? What attitudes does she express toward "One Above"? Can you tell why she feels the need of distraction?

Final question: What are some recurrent features of Stevie Smith's tone and poetic manner? Does she resemble any of the other poets we have read so far?