Darwin and Smith

This site explores two writers: Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and Stevie  Smith (1902-1971). Darwin is famous for writing The Origin of Species and Smith is best known for the poem Not Waving but Drowning

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 both can confound our expectations.  

Darwin’s writing includes comic episodes; such as his account of how he and his family played the piano and bassoon to a pot of worms. Darwin chose his words and explained his concepts very carefully, but some terms, natural selection for instance, could not contain the complexity of his meaning and ambiguity leaked in. 

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. 

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. 

My Blog  will connect randomly to themes in the work of Smith and Darwin. 

Chris Torrance  

I began to write at Chris’s splendid class ‘Adventures in Creative Writing’ and am pleased to provide webspace for him here.

a.bryan77@icloud.com © Anne Bryan 2018