Stevie Smith and Darwin

The poetry of  Stevie  Smith (1902-1971) best known for the poem Not Waving but Drowning, is explored on this site together with the writings of Charles Darwin  (1809-1882) famous for The Origin of Species

Smith often explored human emotions by entering a world of strange fables and myths. The world Darwin shows us is also strange; worms are tremendously powerful and birds have a sense of beauty. 

Smith also wrote about animals. Her fabulous menagerie includes dogs and cats, anacondas, lions, mosquitoes, voles and parrots. Her poems are often amusing but also serious and complex. In 'Fafnir and the Knights; she imagines the  extinction of a species by trophy hunting and habitat destruction. 

Darwin offers a scientific account of how the world works in plain and unambiguous language, Smith's responds to the wonder and terror of the world in poetic language which is full of ambiguity.  Smith is known for being absurd and Darwin is a serious naturalist but his writing also includes comic episodes; such as his account of how he and his family played the piano and bassoon to a pot of worms

Darwin is famous for his studies of the anatomy of different species but less well known for his studies of the expression of emotions in humans and animals. 

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Chris Torrance  

Chris Torrance has a webpage on this site. © Anne Bryan 2018