Stevie Smith

S
Stevie Smith
The Heavenly City
I sigh for the heavenly country,
Where the heavenly people pass,
And the sea is as quiet as a mirror
Of beautiful beautiful glass.

I walk in the heavenly field,
With lilies and poppies bright,
I am dressed in a heavenly coat
Of polished white.
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Miss Snooks, Poetess
Miss Snooks was really awfully nice
And never wrote a poem
That was not really awfully nice
And fitted to a woman,

She therefore made no enemies
And gave no sad surprises
But went on being awfully nice
And took a lot of prizes.


November 1964

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Northumberland House
I was always a thoughtful youngster,
Said the lady on the omnibus,
I remember Father used to say,
You are more thoughtful than us.

I was sensitive too, the least thing
Upset me so much,
I used to cry if a fly
Stuck in the hatch.

Mother always said,
Elsie is too good,
There’ll never be another like Elsie,
Touch wood.

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The Airy Christ
After reading Dr Rieu’s translation of St Mark’s Gospel. Who is this that comes in splendour, coming from the blazing East?
This is he we had not thought of, this is he the airy Christ.

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Deeply Morbid
Deeply morbid deeply morbid was the girl who typed the letters
Always out of office hours running with her social betters
But when daylight and the darkness of the office closed about her
Not for this ah not for this her office colleagues came to doubt her
It was that look within her eye
Why did it always seem to say goodbye?

Joan her name was and at lunchtime
Solitary solitary
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Do Not!
Do not despair of man, and do not scold him,
Who are you that you should so lightly hold him?
Are you not also a man, and in your heart
Are there not warlike thoughts and fear and smart?
Are you not also afraid and in fear cruel,
Do you not think of yourself as usual,
Faint for ambition, desire to be loved,
Prick at a virtuous thought by beauty moved?
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The Face
There is a face I know too well,
A face I dread to see,
So vain it is, so eloquent
Of all futility.

It is a human face that hides
A monkey soul within,
That bangs about, that beats a gong,
That makes a horrid din.
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In My Dreams
In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.

In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
And they give me the stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don't know what I think.
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My Soul
In the flame of the flickering fire
The sins of my soul are few
And the thoughts in my head are the thoughts of a bed
With a solitary view.
But the eye of eternal consciousness
Must blink as a bat blinks bright
Or ever the thoughts in my head be stilled
On the brink of eternal night.
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Not Waving but Drowning
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Pretty
Why is the word pretty so underrated?
In November the leaf is pretty when it falls
The stream grows deep in the woods after rain
And in the pretty pool the pike stalks

He stalks his prey, and this is pretty too,
The prey escapes with an underwater flash
But not for long, the great fish has him now
The pike is a fish who always has his prey
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The Reason
My life is vile
I hate it so
I’ll wait awhile
And then I’ll go.

Why wait at all?
Hope springs alive,
Good may befall
I yet may thrive.
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The Suburban Classes
There is far too much of the suburban classes
Spiritually not geographically speaking. They’re asses.
Menacing the greatness of our beloved England, they lie
Propagating their kind in an eightroomed stye.
Now I have a plan which I will enfold
(There’s this to be said for them, they do as they’re told)
Then tell them their country’s in mortal peril
They believed it before and again will not cavil
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Sunt Leones
The lions who ate the Christians on the sands of the arena
By indulging native appetites played what has now been seen a
Not entirely negligible part
In consolidating at the very start
The position of the Early Christian Church.
Initiatory rites are always bloody
And the lions, it appears
From contemporary art, made a study
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Tender Only to One
Tender only to one
Tender and true
The petals swing
To my fingering
Is it you, or you, or you?

Tender only to one
I do not know his name
And the friends who fall
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Thoughts about the Person from Porlock
Coleridge received the Person from Porlock
And ever after called him a curse,
Then why did he hurry to let him in?
He could have hid in the house.

It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong
(But often we all do wrong)
As the truth is I think he was already stuck
With Kubla Khan.
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Was He Married?
Was he married, did he try
To support as he grew less fond of them
Wife and family?

No,
He never suffered such a blow.

Did he feel pointless, feeble and distrait,
Unwanted by everyone and in the way?

From his cradle he was purposeful,
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