William De Witt Snodgrass
After Experience Taught Me ...
After experience taught me that all the ordinary
Surroundings of social life are futile and vain;
I’m going to show you something very
Ugly: someday, it might save your life.
Seeing that none of the things I feared contain
In themselves anything either good or bad
What if you get caught without a knife;
Nothing—even a loop of piano wire;
Excepting only in the effect they had
Upon my mind, I resolved to inquire
Take the first two fingers of this hand;
Fork them out—kind of a “V for Victory”—
Whether there might be something whose discovery
Would grant me supreme, unending happiness.
And jam them into the eyes of your enemy.
You have to do this hard. Very hard. Then press
No virtue can be thought to have priority
Over this endeavor to preserve one’s being.
Both fingers down around the cheekbone
And setting your foot high into the chest
No man can desire to act rightly, to be blessed,
To live rightly, without simultaneously
You must call up every strength you own
And you can rip off the whole facial mask.
Wishing to be, to act, to live. He must ask
First, in other words, to actually exist.
And you, whiner, who wastes your time
Dawdling over the remorseless earth,
What evil, what unspeakable crime
Have you made your life worth?
William De Witt Snodgrass's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (After Experience Taught Me ... by William De Witt Snodgrass )
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- A Red, Red Rose, Robert Burns
- A Homage To The Freedom Fighters Of India, Raja Basu
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
Poem of the Day
- Sitting In The Park, Paul Gerard Reed
- I wish for peace and not war pieces, Juwon Daniel
- Life is more than anything else, gajanan mishra
- DJ, The Making of A DJ, Bijay Kant Dubey
- Innocent heart, Bijay Kant Dubey
- I'll Be Here, Michael P. McParland
- Kitchen Charade, Nicole C Esbach
- &, Nicole C Esbach
- Chiaroscuro, Nicole C Esbach
- Sonnet # 536, Luis Estable