In “Stevie Smith: Collected Poems” there are themes present such as death, cruelty, religion, loneliness, absurdity, and war. Considering that her childhood was riddled with death, illness, and loss, this isn’t necessarily surprising. But what I find most interesting in her collected works is her treatment of God and religion. James MacGibbon, the editor of “Stevie Smith: Collected Poems” says about her religious beliefs in the preface to the book, “I am not qualified to define them but her life-long attachment to the Church of England, in belief and unbelief, is evident in her poetry, as it was in her conversation, even when she spoke or wrote vehemently against it and professed herself an unbeliever” (9). After reading her collected poems it is clearly evident that religion, and God were on her mind. But what is not evident is whether or not she was actually a believer of God. Even MacGibbon, a long-time friend of Smith’s is unsure where her faith finally rested on the question of religion. The Reverend Gerard Irvine, who knew Smith from her earlier years said, “in religion Stevie was ambivalent: neither a believer, an unbeliever, nor agnostic, but oddly all three at once. Intellectually she rejected the dogmas of her high Anglican background, as unreasonable and morally inferior. But she had an obsessive concern with them…. One could say that she did not like the God of Christian orthodoxy, but she could not disregard Him or even quite bring herself to disbelieve in Him” (Collected Poems 9). The purpose of this, relatively tiny, study is to ascertain, through the use of analysis tools like Voyant and TAPoR, whether or not Stevie Smith’s poetry truly reflects a belief, or disbelief, in God. While the nature of this study was purely speculative, I believe that the data gleaned from this study does warrant further research. Through a larger macroanalysis we can see that there is a negative connotation associated with God in Stevie Smith’s poetry, but there is also a positive connotation associated with Christianity and Love. This hints at the idea that Stevie Smith didn’t have issues with religion or Christianity, but with God himself. There are so many interesting avenues of research that this opens up, but most of all it increases our understanding of Stevie Smith’s poetry while at the same time giving us more questions to analyze her poetry through.
Walker, Hannah and McDaniel, Jamie, "Analyzing Stevie Smith and Religion through Digital Humanities" (2015). Paper Presentations. 7.