Smith’s Poetry: My friend OM sent me “Was He Married?” Stevie Smith’s meditation on Christ. Should we expect more from Jesus than we have, it asks.
- I like adding logic to an examination of religion. The poem has a simple frame as a dialogue; It’s the kind of talk one might have with a spiritual guide or with oneself. — OM
See also thoughts on Smith’s prose, by Lee Rourke at the Guardian.
- She was renowned for her poetry, but in her novels Stevie Smith captures, with exquisite stillness and delicacy, all the pains of love. — The Guardian UK
Was He Married?
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 (1902 – 1971)
New Selected Poems. Copyright © 1972 by Stevie Smith.
New Directions Publishing Corporation.