Good day learners

Today we will be learning how to analyse a poem; Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith





After the lesson is done the learner will be able to:

  1. Analyse the poem.
  2. Able to explain the them of the poem.
  3. Know the difference between metaphorical and literal.
  4. Be able to understand the use of diction in a poem.
  5. It will be easier to analyse any other poem




Read the poem TWO times. Enjoy the rhythm and get the general sense of it.


This poem has TWO meanings; the literal meaning and the the metaphorical meaning.

Literal meaning- the man is drowning in the ocean but people think he is waving instead of screaming for help.


Metaphorical meaning- the man is dying inside but people cannot see that because he had always appeared to be always happy, deep down he is screaming for help.


For further explanation of the difference between literal and metaphoric meaning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_iVZy2Sdc4&t=27s


What is the rhyming scheme of the poem?

Stanza 1- abcb

Stanza 2- defe

Stanza 3- gbhb

Analysis of the poem: 



After reading the poem and listening to the video answer the questions that follow

  1. Who is the author of the poem?
  2. When was the poem published?
  3. What is the rhyming scheme of the poem?
  4. In a paragraph of 10 lines explain the meaning of the poem?
  5. What is the metaphorical and literal meaning of the poem?
  6. How many speakers do we have in the poem?
  7. In stanza 1 line 2 what does the colon present?
  8. Identify the speakers in the poem.

Not Waving But Drowning’ by Stevie Smith describes the emotional situation of a speaker whose true tribulations go unnoticed by all those around her. Even though the poem is tragic but it also have a happy ending. This poem shows that being lonely nut always covering it up is not healthy as it might lead to one ending up drowning.

Give platform for learners to ask questions.

Discuss the poem in general.