Read Vladimir Nabokov’s Unpublished Superman Poem From 1942


In 1942 author Vladimir Nabokov submitted a poem to the New Yorker which imagines Superman’s grief at his inability to father children with Lois Lane. The poem was rejected and has only now been published, nearly 80 years later.

With Superman’s popularity rising since his first appearance a few years earlier in 1938, the Russian writer penned a poem titled “The Man of To-morrow’s Lament”.

The poem, written from Superman’s perspective, sees the super-strong alien mourning the fact that the love of his life would be too frail to bear him a child.

Superman walks though the city park with Lois Lane in his bespectacled persona “otherwise, / when I caress her with my super-eyes, / her lungs and liver are too plainly seen / throbbing”. The Man of Steel goes on to express how, even though he is in love, “marriage would be murder on my part” because his euphemistic “blast of love” could kill his would-be wife. He explains that even if her “fragile frame” survived, “What monstrous babe, knocking the surgeon down, / would waddle out into the awestruck town?”

The poem was rejected by the New Yorker’s poetry editor Charles Pearce who told Nabokov that “most of us appear to feel that many of our readers wouldn’t quite get it”

The poem has finally been published in this week’s Times Literary Supplement. You can read more about Vladimir Nabokov and the poem at The Guardian.

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March 4, 2021 5:53 pm

The fact that I can’t actually read the poem on the linked webIte without paying a £12 subscription fee puts quite the damper on this otherwise doubtlessly fascinating historical discovery.

March 4, 2021 7:17 pm

No wonder it was rejected. What a downer. 🙁

March 8, 2021 7:12 am

Sounds more like a horror movie.
But seriously, Superman has full control of his abilities, which is why he doesn’t crush Lois when hugging her; sub-consciously keeps his powers down low scale.