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Stevie Smith

  • Death's not a separation or alteration or parting it's just a one-handled door.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Mrs. Simpkins," A Good Time Was Had by All ()
  • What care I if good God be / If he be not good to me ...

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Egocentric," A Good Time Was Had by All ()
  • This Englishwoman is so refined / She has no bosom and no behind.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "This Englishwoman," A Good Time Was Had by All ()
  • Beware the man whose mouth is small / For he'll give nothing and take all.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Beware the Man," A Good Time Was Had by All ()
  • I am not a cold woman, Henry, / But I do not feel for you, / What I feel for the elephants and the miasmas / And the general view.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Lady 'Rogue' Singleton," Mother, What Is Man? ()
  • The pleasures of friendship are exquisite, / How pleasant to go to a friend on a visit!

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "The Pleasures of Friendship," Mother, What Is Man? ()
  • Here is all straight and narrow as a tomb / Oh shut me not within a little room.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "The Commuted Sentence," Harold's Leap ()
  • You say I must write another book? But I've just written this one. / You like it so much that's the reason? Read it again then.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "To An American Publisher," Harold's Leap ()
  • I was much too far out all my life / And not waving but drowning.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • title poem, Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • People who are always praising the past / And especially the times of faith as best / Ought to go and live in the Middle Ages / And be burnt at the stake as witches and sages.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "The Past," Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • Marred pleasure's best, shadow makes the sun strong.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "The Queen and the Young Princess," Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • I love Life, / I would fight to the death for it, / That's a feeling you say? I will find / A reason for it.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "A Dream of Comparison," Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • Come Death, you know you must come when you're called / Although you're a god.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Dido's Farewell to Aeneas," Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • Making animals perform for the amusement of human beings is / Utterly disgraceful and abominable. / Animals are animals and have their nature / And that's enough, it is enough, leave it alone.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "This Is Disgraceful and Abominable," Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • I like to see cats in movement. A galloping cat is a fine sight. See it cross the road in a streak, cursed by the drivers of motor cars and buses, dodging the butcher's bicycle, coming safe to the kerb and bellying under its home gate.

  • See the cat at love, rolling with its sweetheart, up and over, with shriek and moan. But if a person comes by, they break away, sit separate upon a fence washing their faces — and might never have met at all.

  • ... all tamed animals are nervous, we have given them reason to be, not only by cruelty but by our love too, that presses upon them. They have not been able to be entirely indifferent to this and untouched by it.

  • It is an amiable part of human nature, that we should love our animals; it is even better to love them to the point of folly, than not to love them at all.

  • The human creature is alone in his carapace. Poetry is a strong way out.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • title poem, My Muse ()
  • Poetry is very strong and never has any kindness at all. She is Thetis and Hermes, the Angel, the white horse and the landscape. All Poetry has to do is to make a strong communication. All the poet has to do is to listen. The poet is not an important fellow. There will always be another poet.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • title poem, My Muse ()
  • Why does my Muse only speak when she is unhappy? / She does not, I only listen when I am unhappy / When I am happy I live and despise writing / For my Muse this cannot but be dispiriting.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • title poem, My Muse ()
  • Sin recognized - but that - may keep us humble, / But oh, it keeps us nasty.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Recognition Not Enough," Poems ()
  • If there wasn't death, I think you couldn't go on.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • in The Observer ()
  • It is only a legend / You say? But what / Is the meaning of the legend / If not / To give blame to women most / And most punishment?

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "How Cruel Is the Story of Eve," The Best Beast ()
  • How cruel is the story of Eve, / What responsibility it has / In history / For misery.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "How Cruel Is the Story of Eve," The Best Beast ()
  • Nobody writes or wishes to / Who is one with their desire.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Mrs. Arbuthnot," The Best Beast ()
  • Oh I am a cat that likes to / Gallop about doing good ...

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "The Galloping Cat," Scorpion and Other Poems ()
  • Ah me, sweet Death, you are the only god / Who comes as a servant when he is called, you know, / Listen then to this sound I make, it is sharp, / Come Death. Do not be slow.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "Come Death (ii)," Scorpion and Other Poems ()
  • He wrote The I and the It / He wrote The It and Me / He died at Marienbad / And now we are all at sea.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "On the Death of a German Philosopher," Collected Poems ()
  • You must have some money if you are going to live simply. It need not be much, but you must have some.

  • I like food, I like stripping vegetables of their skins, I like to have a slim young parsnip under my knife.

  • This is the simplest of all thoughts, that Death must come when we call, although he is a god.

  • I love Death because he breaks the human pattern and frees us from pleasures too prolonged as well as from the pains of this world. It is pleasant, too, to remember that Death lies in our hands; he must come if we call him. ... I think if there were no death, life would be more than flesh and blood could bear ...

  • ... nothing is more wistful than the scent of lilac, nor more robust than its woody stalk, for we must remember that it is a tree as well as a flower, we must try not to forget this ...

  • ... a great artist ... takes what he did not make and makes of it something that only he can make ...

  • Truth is far and flat, and fancy is fiery; and truth is cold, and people feel the cold, and they may wrap themselves against it in fancies that are fiery, but they should not call them facts; and, generally, poets do not; they are shrewd, they feel the cold, too, but they know a hawk from a handsaw, a fact from a fancy, as none knows better.

  • Youth is an arithmetical statement of passing interest, each hour eats it up.

  • It is better to see the grass than write about it / Better to see the water than write a water-song ...

  • In his fur the animal rode, and in his fur he strove, / And oh it filled my heart my heart, it filled my heart with love.

  • ... one never knows really how things are with other people, they just do always seem more spirited than oneself somehow.

  • There can be no good art that is international. Art to be vigorous and gesund must use the material at hand.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "On Writing," in Hermione Lee, ed., Stevie Smith: A Selection ()
  • Colours are what drive me most strongly.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "On Writing," in Hermione Lee, ed., Stevie Smith: A Selection ()
  • I love people, but I love the thought and memory of them just as much.

    • Stevie Smith
  • Life may be treacherous, but you can always depend on death.

    • Stevie Smith
  • 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.

  • O Pug, obstinate old nervous breakdown, / In the midst of so much love, / and such comfort, / Still to feel unsafe and be afraid, / How one's heart goes out to you!

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "O Pug!" Scorpion and Other Poems ()

Stevie Smith, English poet, novelist

(1902 - 1971)

Full name: Florence Margaret Smith.