not waving but drowning

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  • Not Waving But Drowning
    • Purpose
      • Conveys difficulty we all have in understanding other people's interior worlds and psychological suffering
      • metaphor for 'drowning' in life- people put on a brave face but under the façade they are struggling
      • death can be a blessing if it relieves one from heaviness in life
    • Content
      • begins with speaker stating there is a dead man who is not really dead because his story has more to offer to the world
      • his death came at the hands of apathy and neglect
      • emotionless reactions of beachgoers- attempt to recall something about his life, give up and declare him dead
    • Structure
      • three stanzas, rhyme scheme deviates as poem progresses
      • second line of both stanzas ends in moaning, 4th ends in drowning
      • 3rd -->1st person
      • enjambment in every stanza conveys 'last breath' of dying man
      • Choice to rhyme every other line lifts dark tone--> lighthearted. allows reader to enjoy poem without being distressed by subject matter
        • but contrast between rhyme scheme and discussion of death draws more attention to it
    • Tone
      • 1. Narrator
        • initially factual/ neutral, hint of impatience (still, moaning)
      • 2. Dead man
        • obviously emotional/plaintive/angry
      • 3. They
        • almost jaunty, offhand, unconcerned
    • Analysis
      • Stanza One
        • first line hooks reader
        • syntax 2nd line- not dead YET. dead man characterised in a disturbing way
        • 'you'- people unable to see distress they are in
      • Stanza Two
        • 'larking'- colloquial, jolly, casually shrugging off reality of situation
        • Onlookers look no deeper into his life or his death than what their first guesses give them
        • 'they said' -placing of this in a single line makes us question this
          • underlying apathy/ distaste for death
        • contrast between how they see him and how he sees himself
      • Stanza Three
        • speaker's emotions come through
        • caesura after 'no,no no;'- interjection/ emphasis & brackets emphasis that he is still there dying
        • 'moaning- whining about something insignificant
        • line 10-12: being dead soesn't stop him from trying to be heard
        • this stanza further confuses the difference between life and death, as well as the cause of his misfortune. dead man describes a lifetime of drowning, not just a single event, as if life and death aren't separate states


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