The Face

By Stevie Smith 1902–1971 Stevie Smith
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.

Sometimes the monkey soul will sprawl   
Athwart the human eyes,
And peering forth, will flesh its pads,   
And utter social lies.

So wretched is this face, so vain,   
So empty and forlorn,
You well may say that better far   
This face had not been born.

Stevie Smith, “The Face” 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, 1998)

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Poet Stevie Smith 1902–1971


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 Stevie  Smith


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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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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