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Essentially shy and soft-spoken before an audience, he gained a reputation for impassioned public readings, zippy sports cars, delight in fairy tales, and fierce public debates on the status of modern poetry, including that of Allen Ginsberg and the Beat generation.
He was born on May 6,in Nashville and spent his childhood in Hollywood, California.
After the divorce of his parents, he returned to his hometown at age 12 to live with his grandparents. Although he majored in psychology in his undergraduate years at Vanderbilt University, he studied under Fugitive Agrarians John Crowe Ransom and Robert Penn Warren and demonstrated a remarkable intellectual range and gift for language and analysis.
He completed an M. Then World War II intervened in his career. He served for three years as an army flying instructor and tower operator. He regretted that he was too old for combat, but nevertheless turned his wartime experience to advantage in Little Friend, Little Friend and Losses From tohe edited poetry for Partisan Review, establishing a reputation for truth-telling evaluations at whatever cost to fellow poets.
The mature stage of his career included publication of a series of pro-Frost, pro-Whitman critical essays in Poetry and the Age Less successful was a satirical novel, Pictures from an Institution: A Comedya witty putdown of academic life.
On October 14,while in Chapel Hill at UNC's Memorial Hospital undergoing a skin graft on his hand, Jarrell stepped in front of a car, leaving unsettled whether his death was accidental or self-inflicted.
Complicating the coroner's task were Jarrell's hospitalization earlier that year for manic-depression and episodes of death wish. Inhis widow edited Jarrell's Letters: An Autobiographical and Literary Selection. Enfolded in the plexiglass dome posed like a blister on the underside of a B or B bomber, the speaker is ripe for catastrophe.
To intensify the image of doom, the poet robs the five-line poem of suspense by establishing in the title that the speaker does not survive the war.
To enhance the stark terror of a gunner's task, Jarrell makes him soft and vulnerable, like a tender, unborn fetus.
Swiveling like a latter-day watchman in the round, the gunner hunches in the turret to track the enemy below with. The collar of his napped flight jacket freezes in the frigid air six miles up, where he meets the death-dealing black bursts that "loosed" him from a "dream of life," the poet's term for late-teen unsophistication and a forgivable idealism.
Jarrell's skill with imagery derives from incisive wordcraft. Within the brief poem are few rhymes: The victim jolts awake from his youthful illusions to a "State" necessity — the waste of callow, expendable warriors. The unseen challengers are "nightmare fighters" who leave the shattered gunner in pitiable shape.
The conclusion is sensational, ghoulish: Like a dismembered fetus, his remains are jet-washed from the turret with a steam hose. Without comment, the poet halts, leaving the reader with the inhuman remnants of air combat. The poem bears Jarrell's characteristic rejection of false comfort. Decking her spirit's progress through the wild are delicate glimmers of lightning bugs and "darning-needles that sew bad girls' mouths shut," the touches of terror that remind the reader of death's permanent silencing.
The leisured, protracted perusal of Lady Bates' death raises goose bumps for the juxtaposition of a girlish gentility and the persistence of Night, an ambiguous cavalier who rescues the girl from a future of hard knocks.
Set against the chain gangs and kitchen jobs of hard-handed Southern racism, the premature loss of an innocent soul suits the unblinking inscription in "the Book of Life. The poem has a subdued reverie at the beginning and sketches the inner landscape of a passive uniform-clad figure walking among cages and fearfully observing the exhibits.
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"The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is a fantastic example of what poetry is capable of. Think of it this way.
If you had to write something in prose dealing with the complexity and emotion of big subjects like life, death, and war, it would take you way more than 5 sentences to get it done.
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Robert Lowell is best known for his volume Life Studies, but his true greatness as an American poet lies in the astonishing variety of his work. In the s he wrote intricate and tightly patterned poems that incorporated traditional meter and rhyme; in the late.
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In his essay on Wallace Stevens, written when he was 37, Jarrell observed that poets have no choice about waiting for the spark of heaven to fall: “A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or . Jarrell was the most respected -- and the most feared -- poetry critic of his time, and occasionally wrote about fiction as well. Four collections of his literary essays appeared between and Issued posthumously were The Complete Poems () and two essay collections, The Third Book of Criticism () and Kipling, Auden & Co. (). Colleagues Robert Lowell, Peter Taylor, and Robert Penn Warren mourned Jarrell's abrupt death with a collection of tributes, Randall Jarrell.