Appearance and Deception —

We were happily wandering in a lovely area of the fabulous gardens at Chanticleer, in Wayne, PA, when we came across a dark stone Hermit’s Pool with fast-running water:

At the Hermit's Pool

It took a while for the shock to register. The photo reminds me of one of British poet Stevie Smith’s simplest poems. Simple — but thoroughly chilling.

Not Waving, But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

A reminder, if we need one, that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. It’s a kindness to look again.

This entry was posted in Doubt, Life and Death, Poetry, Wisdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Appearance and Deception —

  1. Chilling and evoking……wow.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      The Hub is wandering around in shock at my posting it, but I’ve always loved that poem; and finding again the photo from the Gardens brought them both to mind. Chanticleer Gardens lists the pond and its sculptures on its website, but doesn’t have a word to explain anything about why or what!


      • So glad you posted this. First of all, I love the poem…….the match to the sculpture is incredible. Thank you! Just returned home from the Museum of Art reception for members for the opening of the Matisse Exhibit, so your post rounded out the evening perfectly.


        • Touch2Touch says:

          Lucky you, to have that wonderful Matisse collection visiting your city! I am a great fan of all his work, color AND line. Thrilled to be able to add a smidgen to that experience. 🙂


  2. Patti Kuche says:

    I can still see my mother sitting on the bank waving to me as I bobbed up and down in an unexpected deep patch of the river . . . . A wonderful poem Judith!


  3. Liz says:

    I see a huge face with eyes closed, the proportion is bigger than a normal human head. What is it really?


    • Touch2Touch says:

      What is it really, Liz? What you see is what you get! I hadn’t noticed the proportion, but you’re right. The head is quite large. It’s of marble (judging by the swirling colors) in this pool where the water is almost black, so you don’t notice the head right away. Beyond this large face, notice another one, smaller, and turned sideways. There is not a word of explanation, I think it’s simply a “folly” or a conceit by a sculptor when the gardens were designed. This area is called The Ruins, because the original house once stood there, and it has carefully been constructed to give the impression of a grotto or something like that, complete with ruins and a Hermit’s Pool.


      • Liz says:

        I thought the other one was a crumpled piece of garbage but now I see it clearly. It’s a head…you have to really look hard to see. How interesting. Thanks for sharing. It’s amazing!!!!


  4. 2e0mca says:

    I remember reading this poem before Judith though I don’t recall when – it probably wasn’t at school so I guess I found it randomly as I wandered the lost soul that I usually am! Thanks for reminding me of its power and loved your picture that prompted you to quote it 🙂


  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Ah yes this is a very thought provoking poem, good choice!


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