Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring (1 April 1945)

By W. D. Snodgrass 1926–2009

(Göring, head of the Luftwaffe, once bragged that if one German city were bombed, they could call him “Meier.” At his Karinhall estate, he questions himself and his disgrace.)

And why, Herr Reichsmarschall, is Italy   
Just like schnitzel? If they’re beaten   
Either one will just get bigger.
Neither cuts too firm a figure.
Still, all this humble pie you’ve eaten   
Lately, fills you out quite prettily.

Why then, Herr Göring, how can we   
Tell you and Italy apart?
Italy always wins through losing;
I, just the opposite, by using
High skills and cunning learned the art   
Of flat pratfalls through victory.

You've led our Flying Circus; how   
Could our war ace turn to a clown?   
Both pad out over-extended fronts;   
Both keep alive doing slick stunts   
And, even so, both get shot down.   
But only one’s called “Meier” now.

Pray, could an old, soft football be   
Much like a man in deep disgrace?   
They don’t kick back; don’t even dare   
Look up—the British own the air!   
Then, stick a needle in someplace;   
Pump yourself full of vacancy.

Tell us, dear Minister for Air,
Are warriors, then, like a bad smell?
Neither stays inside its borders;
Either’s bound to follow ordures;
They both expand and play the swell
Though something’s getting spoiled somewhere.

Then answer one more question, which is   
Are politicians like whipped cream?
They both inflate themselves with gas;   
Also they both puff up your ass
Till you’re exposed like some bad dream   
Where you’ve grown too big for your britches.

Herr President, can’t we tell apart   
An artful statesman and an ass?
Fat chance! One spouts out high ideals;   
One makes low rumblings after meals.   
But that’s the threat of leaking gas   
Which all men fear! No; that’s a fart.

Last, could you give one simple rule   
To tell a medal from a turd?
No. They both come from those above you   
Conveying their opinion of you.
Right! Here’s your new medal, conferred   
For vast achievements: April Fool!

W.D. Snodgrass, “Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring (1 April 1945)” from The Fuehrer Bunker: The Complete Cycle. Copyright © 1995 by W.D. Snodgrass. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: The Fuehrer Bunker: The Complete Cycle (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1995)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet W. D. Snodgrass 1926–2009

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Subjects War & Conflict, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Persona

 W. D. Snodgrass


W. D. Snodgrass is often credited with being one of the founding members of the "confessional" school of poetry, even though he dislikes the term confessional and does not regard his work as such. Nevertheless, his Pulitzer Prize-winning first collection, Heart's Needle, has had a tremendous impact on that particular facet of contemporary poetry. "Like other confessional poets, Snodgrass is at pains to reveal the repressed, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Persona

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.