17 October 2011

Not quoting but clowning

I've had a spatter of queries about the title of yesterday's post, "Not trawling but drowning", most of them suspecting that it's a quotation they ought to know.

It's not a quotation (or not so far as I know, anyway; one can never be sure) but a subversion of one: I twisted it from the title of Stevie Smith's most widely known poem.

Not waving but drowning
(Stevie Smith, 1953)

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.

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