Forgive me, forgive me
Forgive me forgive me for my heart is my own
And not to be given for any man's frown
Yet would I not keep it for ever alone.
Forgive me forgive me I thought that I loved
My fancy betrayed me my heart was unmoved
My fancy too often has carelessly roved.
Forgive me forgive me for here where I stand
There is no friend beside me no lover at hand
No footstep but mine in my desert of sand.
Best known for her lines: “I was much too far out all of my life/and not waving but drowning,” Stevie Smith died on March 7th in 1971.
She had been awarded the Chomondeley Award for Poetry in 1966 and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1969 but perhaps the sense of isolation in her poetry foreshadows the obscurity which would follow for her and few lists of influential English poets of the mid to late twentieth century include her name. Fellow poet, Jeni Couzyn remembers her, “standing in all of her loneliness as one standing on a great height.” Robert Graves also recognised her sense of isolation but said that she wrote “the purest poetry of our time.”