Read The Complete Poems Randall Jarrell by Randall Jarrell Online

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This collection of poems by the renowned poet Randall Jarrell show once again how important and original his voice continues to be....

Title : The Complete Poems Randall Jarrell
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ISBN : 9780374127169
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 507 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Complete Poems Randall Jarrell Reviews

  • D Murray
    2019-06-30 15:11

    Randall Jarrell was known, and in many ways feared, as a brilliantly incisive and sometimes harsh critic of literature who would tear to pieces work he didn't like... then in 1963, after an especially vicious review of his own most recent book appeared in the New York Times, he slashed his wrist. Two years later, he died in an accident that many of his closest friends thought was actually a suicide. Granted, there were other issues involved, but I've always had the nagging feeling that there was some sort of moral lesson in this story. It reads like a parable on the dangers of harshness. I have to admit that I wasn't a huge fan before, and now after rereading, I can honestly say I stand by my original assessment. Jarrell is clearly intelligent and infused with literary knowledge, but for me the standard and fashionable mid-century pessimism is just too much. It's wonderful to declare one's self a pacifist, but it might be nice to also mention that fighting Hitler and the Nazis is not exactly a moral misstep either. His pacifism is so didactic and generic that it comes off simply as a backdrop for dark and pessimistic poetry rather than as a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the situation-- World War Two, which was probably the noblest and most necessary war of the 20th century. Unlike Whitman, O'Hara, and others, I rarely sense any joy, wonder, or gratitude ever coming from Jarrell. I can never shake the feeling that his poetry is telling us that life is simply not very good or enjoyable, which leaves me with the double dilemma of the feeling that his main themes concern war as a terrible and sad waste of human life, but that even without war, Life is mostly sad and terrible anyway. Sorry, but that's a hard sell for me.I rate the book 3 stars out of respect for his skill as a poet, despite the fact that I don't enjoy his temperament or content.

  • Alexander
    2019-06-26 17:20

    This Book is essential for my research. Pages on poet's war experience are the best among american war poetry. There's no such american poet who managed to touch upon the whole spectrum of war-images and themes the way Jarrell did. I'd recomend "Blood for a Stranger" (1942) and "Little Friend, Little Friend" (1945).

  • Alan
    2019-07-16 16:12

    Still my favorite American poet, for Deutch durch Freud, Woman at the Washington Zoo, and so on.

  • Gwern
    2019-07-06 16:11

    491 pages, ~263 poems. Randall Jarrell followed a typically academic career for 20th century American poet, bouncing through various universities and nonprofit/government positions until his early death; he is often cited & quoted for his critical opinions & 1 WWII poem (some of which are quite good & I fully agree with), but his actual poetry is rarely quoted & hardly available online. So when a quotation of the ending of his poem "A Ghost, A Real Ghost" intrigued me, I had to get a used copy to see the rest of it.It was overall a bust and I struggled to finish it. Jarrell turns out to be a far greater literary critic than poet. I usually consider a collection of poetry a success if I like even a few poems in it, but despite plowing through several hundred often very long poems of his, I have to consider it appallingly dreary at best. Jarrell's style is the worst of the 20th century academic style (doubtless he played a role in creating it), free verse in turgid ponderous descriptions, abounding with endless rhetorical questions and pathetic fallacies invoking abstractions. (Not for the first time I wonder why English 20th century is so systematically and totally appalling.) There is no music to his verse, and he is trapped in his own style - the only time his poems come anywhere near conveying anything is when the topic matter is so searing it overcomes his mannerisms (some of the WWII poems) or when formal considerations or imitation/parody force him out of his chosen shackles and into another voice. The last two categories are particularly sad because it's clear that Jarrell did have literary talent, from how easily & lightly he rhymes & mimicks, but had too much freedom and lapsed into mediocrity. No T.S. Eliot, the few good lines of "A Girl in a Library" are buried in a tedious mass of pages and overintellectualizing, and likewise "A Ghost, A Real Ghost" is in bad need of a rewrite to make the first half stand up to the second half. In a more dogmatic time, perhaps Jarrell would've been forced to be the poet he could've been.A few poems:"A Ghost, a Real Ghost":I think of that old woman in the songWho could not know herself without the skirtThey cut off while she slept beside a stile.Her dog jumped at the unaccustomed legsAnd barked till she turned slowly from her gateAnd went - I never asked them where she went.The child is hopeful and unhappy in a worldWhose future is his recourse: she kept walkingUntil the skirt grew, cleared her head and dog -Surely I thought so when I laughed. If skirts don't grow,If things can happen so, and you not knowWhat you could do, why, what is there you could do?I know now she went nowhere; went to waitIn the bare night of the fields, to whisper:"I'll sit and wish that it was never so."I see her sitting on the ground and wishing,The wind jumps like a dog against her legs,And she keeps thinking: "This is all a dream.""Who would cut off a poor old woman's skirt?So good too. No, it's not so:No one could feel so, really." And yet one might.A ghost must; and she was, perhaps, a ghost.The first night I looked into the mirrorAnd saw the room empty, I could not believeThat it was possible to keep existingIn such pain: I have existed.Was the old woman dead? What does it matter?- Am I dead? A ghost, a real ghostHas no need to die: what is he exceptA being without access to the universeThat he has not yet managed to forget?--pg262-263, The Complete Poems (originally The Woman at the Washington Zoo)"The Archangels' Song" (from Goethe's Faust)RAPHAEL:The sun sings out, as of oldAgainst the spheres' unchanging sound;Yet once more, with thunderous footsteps,He works out his predestined round.Though no angel fathoms him, his faceGives strength to them upon their way;The inconceivably exalted worksAre glorious as on the first day.GABRIEL:Swift, past all understanding swiftIs the splendor of earth's whirling flight:The brilliance of Paradise is changedFor the awful darkness of the night.The ocean foams up, overwhelming,The great rocks tremble with the force,And rocks and ocean are swept onwardIn the spheres' swift, eternal course.MICHAEL:In rivalry the tempests roarFrom sea to land, from land to sea,And, raging, forge out for the earthFetters of wildest energy.Before the path of the thunderboltThe lightnings of desolation blaze.And yet thine angels, Lord, adoreThe tranquil footsteps of they days.ALL THREE:Since none can fathom thee, thy faceGives strength to us upon our way,And thine exalted works, O God,Are glorious as on the first day.--pg251-252"Song: Not There"I went to the cupboard, I opened the door,I cried to my people, O it's not there!"How long did you think it would last?" said the cook,Said the butler, "Does anyone care?"But where is it, where is it? O it's not there,Not there to be saved, not there to be savedIf I'm saved it will not be there.I ran to a plate, to a pig, to a dish,An old china pig, a plate, to a pear,Said, To find it, O, I will look anywhere,Said, Anywhere, Anywhere... "Look anywhere,"Said the plate as it laughed, "yes, look anywhere;There's as good as here, there's as good as there -For where shall you look to be saved?"I said to my people, the plate, to the cupboard,The pig on its platter, the pear, the pear:O where is my salvation "O it's not anywhere.You break in my head like a dish", said the plate,"A pig", said the pig, "a pear", said the pear -Not there to be saved, go not there to be saved,If you're saved it will not be there.--pg105"The Owl's Bedtime Story"There was once upon a time a little owl.He lived with his mother in a hollow tree.On winter nights he'd hear the foxes howl,He'd hear his mother call, and he would seeThe moonlight glittering upon the snow:How many times he wished for companyAs he sat there alone! He'd stand on tiptoe,Staring across the forest for his mother,And hear her far away; he'd look belowAnd see the rabbits playing with each otherAnd see the ducks together on the lakeAnd wish that he'd a sister or a brother:Sometimes it seemed to him his heart would break.The hours went by, slow, dreary, wearisome,And he would watch, and sleep a while, and wake -"Come home! Come home!" he'd think; and she would comeAt last, and bring him food, and they would sleep.Outside the day glared, and the troublesomeSounds of the light, the shouts and caws that keepAn owl awake, went on; and, dark in daylight,The owl and owlet nestled there. But one day, deepIn his dark dream, warm, still, he saw a whiteBird flying to him over the white good.The great owl's wings were wide, his beak was bright.He whispered to the owlet: "You have been goodA long time now, and waited all aloneNight after long night. We have understoodAnd you shall have a sister of your ownA friend to play with, if, now, you will flyFrom your warn nest into the harsh unknownWorld the sun lights." Down from the bright skyThe light fell, when at last the owlet woke.Far, far away he heard an owlet cry.The sunlight blazed upon a broken oakOver the lake, and as he saw the treeIt seemed to the owlet that the sunlight spoke.He heard it whisper: "Come to me! O come to me!"The world outside was cold and hard and bare;But at last the owlet, flapping desperately,Flung himself out upon the naked airAnd lurched and staggered to the nearest limbOf the next tree. How good it felt to him,That solid branch! And, there in that green pine,How calm it was, how shadowy and dim!But once again he flapped into the sunshine -Through all the tumult of the unfriendly day,Tree by tree by tree, along the shorelineOf the white lake, he made his clumsy way.At the bottom of the oak he saw a deadOwl in the snow. He flew to where it layAll cold and still; he looked at it in dread.Then something gave a miserable cry -There in the oak's nest, far above his head,An owlet sat. He thought: The nest's too high,I'll never reach it. "Come here!" he called. "Come here!"But the owlet hid. And so he had to tryTo fly up - and at last, when he was nearAnd stopped, all panting, underneath the nestAnd she gazed down at him, her face looked dearAs his own sister's, it was the happiestHour of his life. In a little, when the twoHad made friends, they started home. He did his bestTo help her: lurching and staggering, she flewFrom branch to branch, and he flapped at her side.The sun shone, dogs barked, boys shouted - on they flew.Sometimes they'd rest; sometimes they would glideA long way, from a high tree to a low,So smoothly - and they'd feel so satisfied,So grown-up! Then, all black against the snow,Some crows came cawing, ugly things! The wiseOwlets sat still as mice; when one big crowSailed by, a branch away, they shut their eyesAnd looked like lumps of snow. And when the night,The friend of owls, had come, they saw the moon riseAnd there came flying to them through the moonlightThe mother owl. How strong, how good, how dearShe did look! "Mother!" they called in their delight.Then the three sat there just as we sit here,And nestled close, and talked - at last they flewHome to the nest. All night the mother would appearAnd disappear, with good things; and the twoWould eat and eat and eat, and then they'd play.But when the mother came, the mother knewHow tired they were. "Soon it will be dayAnd time for every owl to be in his nest",She said to them tenderly; and theyFelt they were tired, and went to her to rest.She opened her wings, they nestled to her breast.--pg348-350

  • A.M. Riley
    2019-06-22 17:10

    The Complete Poems The Complete Poems by Randall JarrellMy rating: 5 of 5 stars"From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."'The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner' World War II poem by Randall JarrellThis week, a prolonged comment exchange with Josh Lanyon, brought me back to my 'home base' - i.e. 20th century poets, especially 20th century American poets. I've decided to babble about them for a few months, choosing one poet each week. I'm posting these psuedo 'reviews' on my blog as well.I chose Randall Jarrell as my first poet, because he was a reknowned critic as well. I consider him the bar to which all critics and reviewers of literature should aspire. Firstly because poetry is extremely difficult to critique. Usually, the critic is reduced to some sort of opinionated diatribe. "I liked this poem because" sounding like a fifteen year old essayist. Or "so-and-so's lyrical blah blah , masking confusion in a litany of terms that really say nothing.Jarrell seemed able to understand what the poet was trying to accomplish and to point out where he/she had both failed and succeeded in this attempt. Awesome, useful amazing critiques.He was also an outspoken pacifist and a friend of most of the contemporary American poets of note. (a small circle of alternately supportive and critical literary giants. a very very very small circle. You and I would never be invited to their parties.) Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich, to name a few.Jarrell's note to the poem aboveA ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24,and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine-guns and one man, a short smallman. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking hisbomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in hislittle sphere, he looked like the foetus in the womb. The fighters whichattacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was asteam hose.I also chose Jarrell because he didn't survive the depression, alcoholism and despair that seems to have been the fate of so many poets in the past. His death, hit by a car while out walking, was officially ruled an accident but was generally felt, by those that knew him, to be a suicide.It is my belief that 20th century poets began to 'get a grip' and more and more of them fought hard to survive with their sensibilities intact.Jarrell was, obviously, a pacifist. He spent time in prison as a concientous objector and wrote two books of poems based on his stay there. All of his poems and quite a few of his best critiques are in this 'complete works'. He wrote poems that stuck in the head of anyone and the poem above has been used and quoted in many anti war and pacifist books and pamphlets. View all my reviews >>

  • Bud Smith
    2019-06-20 15:16

    I liked the war poems best. Especially the Death of the Ball Turret Gunner which reads as follows:From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.I first found that poem in my 8th grade English book and it was the first poem I loved and made me realize I wanted to read more. I went to Barnes and Noble and bought this book. On a whole there are some great poems and then there are some filler/so so poems. Here's another war poemI really liked:Eighth Air ForceRandall Jarrell, 1969 If, in an odd angle of the hutment,A puppy laps the water from a canOf flowers, and the drunk sergeant shavingWhistles O Paradiso!--shall I say that manIs not as men have said: a wolf to man?The other murderers troop in yawning;Three of them play Pitch, one sleeps, and oneLies counting missions, lies there sweatingTill even his heart beats: One; One; One.O murderers! . . . Still, this is how it's done:This is a war . . . But since these play, before they die,Like puppies with their puppy; since, a man,I did as these have done, but did not die--I will content the people as I canAnd give up these to them: Behold the man!I have suffered, in a dream, because of him,Many things; for this last saviour, man,I have lied as I lie now. But what is lying?Men wash their hands, in blood, as best they can:I find no fault in this just man.

  • Carol
    2019-06-28 19:17

    Because I'm not American, I wasn't aware of the Poets Laureate. I came to them through The Poets Laureate Anthology (one of the best additions to my poetry library) and Randall Jarrell was one of the dozen that appealed to me. The Complete Poems did not disappoint. I cannot read the war poems because my family lost members in both Great Wars. So, unlike many of Jarrell's fans, my opinion is based on his other work. I find his vision refreshing. The poems I like best are the ones where I have to work a little to understand them. I find the others either light or baffling. Overall, the purchase was definitely worth the cost.A bonus was finding out that Jarrell was an esteemed critic. I am now anticipating the arrival of Poetry and the Age.

  • Ian
    2019-07-19 14:59

    This is the definitive volume of Randall Jarrell's verse, including Selected Poems, with notes by the author; The Woman at the Washington Zoo, which won the National Book Award for Poetry; and The Lost World. This volume also brings together several of Jarrell's uncollected or posthumously published poems as well as his Rilke translations.

  • Gerry LaFemina
    2019-07-19 19:20

    A lot of terrific poems here. Some filler. It's a big book with some big poems, and it shows Jarrell as a poet with a scope for the entire 20th Century, equally adept in free verse or in more formal attire, as someone able to write in personae or confessionally. I read it in bursts to allow the poems to settle, the voices not to blur.

  • Gary McDowell
    2019-06-24 13:07

    Not my bag, babe.

  • Sudarsan
    2019-06-25 12:14

    I have been reading Jarrell for the past year and he completely eludes me, hence no rating, but don't let this dissuade you from taking a stab at Jarrell.