W.D. Snodgrass

W.D. Snodgrass

in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, The United States
January 05, 1926

January 13, 2009


William De Witt Snodgrass, pseudonym S. S. Gardons, is an American poet and a 1960 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner.

Snodgrass's first poems appeared in 1951, and throughout the 1950's he published in some of the most prestigious magazines: Botteghe Oscure, Partisan Review, The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The Hudson Review. However, in 1957, five sections from a sequence entitled Heart's Needle were included in Hall, Pack and Simpson's anthology, New Poets of England and America, and these were to mark a turning-point. When Lowell had been shown early versions of these poems, in 1953, he had disliked them, but now he was full of admiration.

By the time Heart's Needle was published, in 1959, Snodgrass had already won the The Hudson Review

Average rating: 4.05 · 384 ratings · 46 reviews · 27 distinct works · Similar authors
Heart's Needle

4.14 avg rating — 121 ratings
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De/Compositions: 101 Good P...

3.84 avg rating — 51 ratings — published 2001
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The Fuehrer Bunker: The Com...

3.95 avg rating — 37 ratings — published 1977 — 4 editions
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Selected Poems 1957-1987

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 21 ratings — published 1987 — 2 editions
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Not for Specialists: New an...

3.81 avg rating — 21 ratings — published 2006 — 5 editions
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After Experience

4.09 avg rating — 11 ratings2 editions
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Each in His Season

3.75 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 1993 — 2 editions
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Selected Translations

4.25 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 1998
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To Sound Like Yourself: Ess...

4.33 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2002
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In Radical Pursuit Critical...

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 1975 — 2 editions
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More books by W.D. Snodgrass…
“I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.”
W.D. Snodgrass

“The Poet Ridiculed by Hysterical Academics"

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?”
W.D. Snodgrass


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

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