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Best Famous Randall Jarrell Poems

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by Randall Jarrell | |

The Death Of The Ball Turret Gunner

 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.


by Randall Jarrell | |

Eighth Air Force

 If, in an odd angle of the hutment,
A puppy laps the water from a can
Of flowers, and the drunk sergeant shaving
Whistles O Paradiso!--shall I say that man
Is not as men have said: a wolf to man?

The other murderers troop in yawning;
Three of them play Pitch, one sleeps, and one
Lies counting missions, lies there sweating
Till 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 can And 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.


by Randall Jarrell | |

A Sick Child

 The postman comes when I am still in bed.
"Postman, what do you have for me today?" I say to him.
(But really I'm in bed.
) Then he says - what shall I have him say? "This letter says that you are president Of - this word here; it's a republic.
" Tell them I can't answer right away.
"It's your duty.
" No, I'd rather just be sick.
Then he tells me there are letters saying everything That I can think of that I want for them to say.
I say, "Well, thank you very much.
Good-bye.
" He is ashamed, and turns and walks away.
If I can think of it, it isn't what I want.
I want .
.
.
I want a ship from some near star To land in the yard, and beings to come out And think to me: "So this is where you are! Come.
" Except that they won't do, I thought of them.
.
.
.
And yet somewhere there must be Something that's different from everything.
All that I've never thought of - think of me!


by Randall Jarrell | |

Gunner

 Did they send me away from my cat and my wife
To a doctor who poked me and counted my teeth,
To a line on a plain, to a stove in a tent?
Did I nod in the flies of the schools?
And the fighters rolled into the tracer like rabbits,
The blood froze over my splints like a scab --
Did I snore, all still and grey in the turret,
Till the palms rose out of the sea with my death?
And the world ends here, in the sand of a grave,
All my wars over? How easy it was to die!
Has my wife a pension of so many mice?
Did the medals go home to my cat?


by Randall Jarrell | |

Mail Call

 The letters always just evade the hand
One skates like a stone into a beam, falls like a bird.
Surely the past from which the letters rise Is waiting in the future, past the graves? The soldiers are all haunted by their lives.
Their claims upon their kind are paid in paper That established a presence, like a smell.
In letters and in dreams they see the world.
They are waiting: and the years contract To an empty hand, to one unuttered sound -- The soldier simply wishes for his name.


by Randall Jarrell | |

The Elementary Scene

 Looking back in my mind I can see 
The white sun like a tin plate 
Over the wooden turning of the weeds; 
The street jerking --a wet swing-- 
To end by the wall the children sang.
The thin grass by the girls' door, Trodden on, straggling, yellow and rotten, And the gaunt field with its one tied cow-- The dead land waking sadly to my life-- Stir, and curl deeper in the eyes of time.
The rotting pumpkin under the stairs Bundled with switches and the cold ashes Still holds for me, in its unwavering eyes, The stinking shapes of cranes and witches, Their path slanting down the pumpkin's sky.
Its stars beckon through the frost like cottages (Homes of the Bear, the Hunter--of that absent star, The dark where the flushed child struggles into sleep) Till, leaning a lifetime to the comforter, I float above the small limbs like their dream: I, I, the future that mends everything.


by Randall Jarrell | |

The Breath Of Night

 The moon rises.
The red cubs rolling In the ferns by the rotten oak Stare over a marsh and a meadow To the farm's white wisp of smoke.
A spark burns, high in heaven.
Deer thread the blossoming rows Of the old orchard, rabbits Hop by the well-curb.
The cock crows From the tree by the widow's walk; Two stars in the trees to the west, Are snared, and an owl's soft cry Runs like a breath through the forest.
Here too, though death is hushed, though joy Obscures, like night, their wars, The beings of this world are swept By the Strife that moves the stars.


by Randall Jarrell | |

Well Water

 What a girl called "the dailiness of life"
(Adding an errand to your errand.
Saying, "Since you're up .
.
.
" Making you a means to A means to a means to) is well water Pumped from an old well at the bottom of the world.
The pump you pump the water from is rusty And hard to move and absurd, a squirrel-wheel A sick squirrel turns slowly, through the sunny Inexorable hours.
And yet sometimes The wheel turns of its own weight, the rusty Pump pumps over your sweating face the clear Water, cold, so cold! you cup your hands And gulp from them the dailiness of life.


by John Berryman | |

Dream Song 121: Grief is fatiguing. He is out of it

 Grief is fatiguing.
He is out of it, the whole humiliating Human round, out of this & that.
He made a-many hearts go pit-a-pat who now need never mind his nostril-hair nor a critical error laid bare.
He endured fifty years.
He was Randall Jarrell and wrote a-many books & he wrote well.
Peace to the bearded corpse.
His last book was his best.
His wives loved him.
He saw in the forest something coming, grim, but did not change his purpose.
Honest & cruel, peace now to his soul.
He never loved his body, being full of dents.
A wrinkled peace to this good man.
Henry is half in love with one of his students and the sad process continues to the whole as it swarmed & began.