After poetry


Look in an art catalogue and you often see something like ” Old Man” and then “after Rembrandt” in brackets afterwards.It means ” in the style of” and it’s a way of paying respect, tipping the hat at the great and good who have gone before you.

Well the poet VC Linde has carried this idea into the world of poetry.It works superbly well. She has started a collection of ” After Poems”- her response to poetry which has affected her. And you can see it here:

I was so intrigued by this I had a go myself. One of my favourite poems is ” Not Waving, but Drowning” by Stevie Smith and I’ve taken this poem as a starting point. Here it is.

After Waving

I could tell he was drowning, not waving.
Full ahead, we punched out in the bay.
The lifeboat was bucking and swaying;
the sky looked muddled and grey.

As we breasted each wave top I saw him-
an arm pointed up to the sky,
a face clenched against slopping water,
refusing the fact he would die.

When we got to the spot he had vanished,
leaving only his body for saving.
And I had been right all along-
he had always been drowning, not waving.

If you want to see the original poem, then you can find it here:

If you’re looking for a writing prompt….you could always try this for yourself….


3 thoughts on “After poetry

    • It’s a good writing exercise- you really have to understand the structure of the parent poem – and you tread a narrow line between tribute to the original and parody. Glad you liked it.

  1. I’d never noticed that re art catalogues, and paying credit or homage, but it makes sense, and with poetry, too. Back in the nineteenth century, art training began with copying … we’ve gotten away from that. I like this.

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