Song

By W. D. Snodgrass 1926–2009
Observe the cautious toadstools   
    still on the lawn today
though they grow over-evening;   
    sun shrinks them away.
Pale and proper and rootless,   
    they righteously extort
their living from the living.
    I have been their sort.

See by our blocked foundation   
    the cold, archaic clay,
stiff and clinging and sterile   
    as children mold at play
or as the Lord God fashioned   
    before He breathed it breath.
The earth we dig and carry
    for flowers, is strong in death.

Woman, we are the rich
    soil, friable and humble,   
where all our murders rot,
    where our old deaths crumble   
and fortify my reach
    far from you, wide and free,   
though I have set my root   
    in you and am your tree.

W.D. Snodgrass, “Song” from Selected Poems, 1957-1987 (New York: Soho Press, 1987). Copyright © 1987 by W.D. Snodgrass. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Selected Poems 1957-1987 (1987)

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Poet W. D. Snodgrass 1926–2009

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Men & Women, Death, Gardening, Religion, Living, Relationships, Activities

Occasions Anniversary

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 W. D. Snodgrass

Biography

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, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Men & Women, Death, Gardening, Religion, Living, Relationships, Activities

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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