Was He Married?

By Stevie Smith 1902–1971 Stevie Smith
Was he married, did he try
To support as he grew less fond of them   
Wife and family?

He never suffered such a blow.

Did he feel pointless, feeble and distrait,   
Unwanted by everyone and in the way?

From his cradle he was purposeful,   
His bent strong and his mind full.

Did he love people very much   
Yet find them die one day?

He did not love in the human way.

Did he ask how long it would go on,
Wonder if Death could be counted on for an end?

He did not feel like this,   
He had a future of bliss.

Did he never feel strong   
Pain for being wrong?

He was not wrong, he was right,   
He suffered from others’, not his own, spite.

But there is no suffering like having made a mistake
Because of being of an inferior make.

He was not inferior,   
He was superior.

He knew then that power corrupts but some must govern?

His thoughts were different.

Did he lack friends? Worse,
Think it was for his fault, not theirs?

He did not lack friends,
He had disciples he moulded to his ends.   

Did he feel over-handicapped sometimes, yet must draw even?

How could he feel like this? He was the King of Heaven.   

...find a sudden brightness one day in everything
Because a mood had been conquered, or a sin?

I tell you, he did not sin.   

Do only human beings suffer from the irritation
I have mentioned? learn too that being comical   
Does not ameliorate the desperation?   

Only human beings feel this,
It is because they are so mixed.   

All human beings should have a medal,   
A god cannot carry it, he is not able.   

A god is Man’s doll, you ass,
He makes him up like this on purpose.

He might have made him up worse.

He often has, in the past.

To choose a god of love, as he did and does,   
Is a little move then?

Yes, it is.   

A larger one will be when men
Love love and hate hate but do not deify them?

It will be a larger one.   

Stevie Smith, “Was He Married?” 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)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Stevie Smith 1902–1971


Subjects Death, Disappointment & Failure, Living

Poetic Terms Couplet

 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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Death, Disappointment & Failure, Living


Poetic Terms Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.