Stevie Smith and the ‘Netherlandish Proverbs’

The ages blaspheme
The people are weak
As in a dream
They evilly speak.

Their words in a clatter
Of meaningless sound
Without form or matter
Echo around.

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Stevie Smith’s Eulenspiegel: Figurative Language

O whither is fled thy changeling child

And by what witching craft?

It was the Eulenspiegel spake

And as he spake he laughed.

For well he knew that wrought it so,

The bitch and the changeling too

Are vanished away from the stormwinds’ play

And the stricken mother’s mew.

(Stevie Smith, Collected Poems, ‘Eulenspiegelei’)

Reading Stevie Smith’s Tender Only To One, I came upon ‘Eulenspiegelei’. It tells the story of a ‘changeling child’ who vanishes one stormy night, leaving her mother grieving at home.

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