Late April and you are three; today We dug your garden in the yard. To curb the damage of your play, Strange dogs at night and the moles tunneling, Four slender sticks of lath stand guard Uplifting their thin string.
So you were the first to tramp it down. And after the earth was sifted close You brought your watering can to drown All earth and us. But these mixed seeds are pressed With light loam in their steadfast rows. Child, we’ve done our best.
Someone will have to weed and spread The young sprouts. Sprinkle them in the hour When shadow falls across their bed. You should try to look at them every day Because when they come to full flower I will be away.
Do you ever feel like you just can’t get ahead of the sequence in which the order of things would make sense? I wanted to plant a few fruit trees this spring, but the cold, wet, late spring has made that complicated. I got 6 trees planted yesterday, blustery, rainy mid-40’s cloudy day, perfect for bare root trees, not so perfect for the gardener. Now I have to figure out how to keep the deer off them until I can build a proper deer fence. All my intentions for positioning the orchard were thrown out the window by unexpected complications in designing a new septic field. We’ll see who wins, but it would have been so much easier if I could have built the fence first, then then plant the trees.
in darkness and in hedges I sang my sour tone and all my love was howling conspicuously alone
W. D. Snodgrass
By W. D. Snodgrass
Sorting out letters and piles of my old Canceled checks, old clippings, and yellow note cards That meant something once, I happened to find Your picture. That picture. I stopped there cold, Like a man raking piles of dead leaves in his yard Who has turned up a severed hand.
Still, that first second, I was glad: you stand Just as you stood—shy, delicate, slender, In that long gown of green lace netting and daisies That you wore to our first dance. The sight of you stunned Us all. Well, our needs were different, then, And our ideals came easy.
Then through the war and those two long years Overseas, the Japanese dead in their shacks Among dishes, dolls, and lost shoes; I carried This glimpse of you, there, to choke down my fear, Prove it had been, that it might come back. That was before we got married.
—Before we drained out one another’s force With lies, self-denial, unspoken regret And the sick eyes that blame; before the divorce And the treachery. Say it: before we met. Still, I put back your picture. Someday, in due course, I will find that it’s still there.
I am afraid W. D. Snodgrass falls into one of voids of 20th Century poets who when I read their name for the first time, I go ….”who?”. After reading some of his poems, I can say he would not rank even in my top 200 favorite poets, but I do admire his sense of humor. Snodgrass did what average white male poets could do back then, have a long, mediocre successful career and then fade away into obscurity. In reality he achieved a far bit, or it says so on the internet. I enjoyed him poking fun at himself and his colleagues in the poem below, while maintaining the style for which he was being ridiculed. I am willing to wager part of the joke is the way he placed the words upon the page. My assessment in my brief tour of Snodgrass land is that he lived the American dream, what most of us aspire; Do something we enjoy, get paid enough to live a good life from it and then get out of the way for the next generation and fade into the very obscurity from which we emerged.
The Poet Ridiculed by Hysterical Academics
by W. D. Snodgrass
…….. ,,,,, . Is it, then, your opinion Women are putty in your hands? Is this the face to launch upon A thousand one night stands?
First, please, would you be so kind As to define your contribution To modern verse, the Western mind And human institutions?
Where, where is the long, flowing hair, The velvet suit, the broad bow tie; Where is the other-worldly air, Where the abstracted eye?
Describe the influence on your verse Of Oscar Mudwarp’s mighty line, The theories of Susan Schmersch Or the spondee’s decline.
You’ve labored to present us with This mouse-sized volume; shall this equal The epic glories of Joe Smith? He’s just brought out a sequel.
Where are the beard, the bongo drums, Tattered T-shirt and grubby sandals, As who, released from Iowa, comes To tell of wondrous scandals?
Have you subversive, out of date, Or controversial ideas? And can you really pull your weight Among such minds as these?
Ah, what avails the tenure race, Ah, what the Ph.D., When all departments have a place For nincompoops like thee?