Not Waving But Drowning Essay

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“Not Waving but Drowning”, by Stevie Smith and “The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner”, by Randall Jarrell are two poems that deal heavily with death and its’ apathy. Both poems handle and view death in two completely different ways. When I first read “Not Waving but Drowning,” I thought that the author was writing of a man drowning in cold deep water faraway from shore with his friends waving back thinking he is ok. But when I read the poem more closely and figuratively the poems meaning totally changed. Thinking about the poem literally is reading the obvious, a man drowning in water. But then looking at the diction of the poem, the words and meaning of the poem start to change. What I interpreted was that the poem is a metaphor for someone that is too far into alcoholism and cannot be saved and they are going to die because they are drowning, drowning themselves in alcohol. “Nobody heard him, the dead man.” I think In order for him to be dead already, and to be talking of his own dead body, he could only be reliving his own death threw someone else’s eye’s. So I imagine in my mind a man looking down from heaven watching his body die. I think the writer is referring to himself as being beyond being saved, but he is still crying for help. When I read, “I was much farther out than you thought.” I think that the person he refers to as you, would be the person that he drank his alcohol with, and he is saying, I was a lot father gone than you thought I was. Then it goes on to say for the first time, “Not waving but drowning.” Which to me, it is said sarcastically, in a sense that he is crying out for help, “Poor chap, he always loved larking and now he’s dead… they said.” but no one believes him. The poem uses imagery about his death as drowning. Imagine what it would be like to drown, you might imagine yourself having a good time in the water with your friends
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