Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stevie Smith: Longing for Death Because of Feebleness

The drawing is
Stevie Smith's
I find myself unable to locate words. My affection for Stevie Smith's (1902-1971) work, and life, is great; my oldest sister sent me a collection in the seventies, and later I read a biography. And there's always Stevie, with Glenda Jackson as Stevie Smith and Mona Washbourne as her dear, so-English aunt. As the NYTimes reviewer writes, "Stevie has only four characters in it, but it is a very big, beautiful film about a restlessly rambunctious soul. It deserves to stay around indefinitely." And there are her poems, her drawings, her fiction, and back to her poems.

Longing for Death Because of Feebleness

Oh would that I were a reliable spirit careering around
Congenially employed and no longer by feebleness bound
Oh who would not leave the flesh to become a reliable spirit
Possibly travelling far and acquiring merit.

Stevie Smith, Selected Poems, New Directions Press. 1962.
(The above is not the illustration for this poem in Selected Poems. Couldn't find that.)
Here is a Stevie Smith trove assembled by Anne Bryan (

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