Tender Only to One

By Stevie Smith 1902–1971 Stevie Smith
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   
To the petals’ call
May think my love to blame.

Tender only to one   
This petal holds a clue   
The face it shows
But too well knows   
Who I am tender to.

Tender only to one,
Last petal’s latest breath
Cries out aloud
From the icy shroud
His name, his name is Death.

Stevie Smith, “Tender Only to One” from New Selected Poems. Copyright © 1972 by Stevie Smith. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1988)

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Poet Stevie Smith 1902–1971

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Death

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Stevie  Smith

Biography

Calling Stevie Smith's Not Waving but Drowning "the best collection of new poems to appear in 1957," Poetry contributor David Wright observed that "as one of the most original women poets now writing [Stevie Smith] seems to have missed most of the public accolades bestowed by critics and anthologists. One reason may be that not only does she belong to no 'school'—whether real or invented as they usually are—but her work is so . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Death

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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