Do Not!

By Stevie Smith 1902–1971 Stevie Smith
Do not despair of man, and do not scold him,   
Who are you that you should so lightly hold him?   
Are you not also a man, and in your heart
Are there not warlike thoughts and fear and smart?   
Are you not also afraid and in fear cruel,
Do you not think of yourself as usual,
Faint for ambition, desire to be loved,
Prick at a virtuous thought by beauty moved?   
You love your wife, you hold your children dear,   
Then say not that Man is vile, but say they are.   
But they are not. So is your judgement shown   
Presumptuous, false, quite vain, merely your own   
Sadness for failed ambition set outside,
Made a philosophy of, prinked, beautified   
In noble dress and into the world sent out
To run with the ill it most pretends to rout.
Oh know your own heart, that heart's not wholly evil,   
And from the particular judge the general,   
If judge you must, but with compassion see life,   
Or else, of yourself despairing, flee strife.

Stevie Smith, “Do Not!” 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 Relationships, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Couplet

 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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SUBJECT Relationships, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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