Stevie Smith Poems

Poems » stevie smith

Stevie Smith
Stevie Smith (September 20, 1902–March 7, 1971) was a British poet and novelist. Born Florence Margaret Smith in Kingston upon Hull, the second daughter of Ethel and Charles Smith, she acquired the name Stevie as a young woman when she was riding in the park with a friend who said that she reminded him of the jockey, Steve Donaghue. She was always called Peggy within her family. When three years old she moved with her mother and sister to Palmers Green in North London, after her father left home (his business as a shipping agent, which he had inherited from his father, was failing and so was his marriage, and he ran away to sea, becoming a ship's purser). Stevie saw very little of her father as a child - he appeared seldom and sent very brief postcards ("Off to Valparaiso, Love Daddy"). She resented the fact that he had abandoned his family. Later, when her mother became ill, her aunt Madge (whom Stevie called "Lion") came to live with them. It was Madge Spear who raised Stevie and her older sister Molly, and who became the most important person in Stevie's life. Miss Spear was a feminist who claimed to have "no patience" with men (as Stevie wrote, "she also had 'no patience' with Hitler"). Stevie and Molly were raised without men and thus became attached to their own independence, rather than what Stevie described as the typical Victorian family atmosphere of "father knows best." When Stevie was five she developed tuberculous peritonitis and was sent to a sanatorium near Broadstairs, Kent, where she remained off and on for several years. She related that her preoccupation with death began when she was seven, at a time when she was very distressed at being sent away from her mother. Death fascinated her and is the subject of many of her poems. When suffering from the depression to which she was subject all her life, she was so consoled by the thought of death as a release that as she put it, she did not have to commit suicide. (She wrote in several poems that death was "the only god who must come when he is called.") She was educated at Palmers Green High School and North London Collegiate School for Girls. She spent the remainder of her life with her aunt, and worked as private secretary to Sir Neville Pearson with Sir George Newnes at Newnes Publishing Company in London from 1923 to 1953. Despite her secluded life, she corresponded and socialized widely with other writers and creative artists, including Elisabeth Lutyens, Sally Chilver, Inez Holden, Naomi Mitchison, and Anna Kallin. She was described by her friends as being naive and selfish in some ways and formidably intelligent in others, having been raised by her aunt both as a spoiled child and a resolutely autonomous woman. Likewise, her political views vacillated between her aunt's Toryism and her friends' left-wing tendencies.

winter evening
To-night the very horses springing by
Toss gold from whitened nostrils. In a dream
The str... [read poem]
not waving but drowning
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you ... [read poem]
Continue in Traditional »»»

Page 1 of 1