Randall Jarrell

Randall Jarrell was a poet, critic, and literary essayist. From 1937 to 1939 he taught at Kenyon College, where he met John Crowe Ransom and Robert Lowell.

Summer 1946

A Chorus

By Randall Jarrell

  You whom we blessFor the graves that bore us; for the pit of doom—Of our salvation; for the caves of breathShored with the bones of cities: life in which we […]

Winter 1939

The Winter’s Tale

By Randall Jarrell

The storm rehearses through the bewildered fieldsIts general logic; the contorted or dispassionateFaces work out their incredulity, or stammerThe mistaking sentences. Night falls. In the litSchoolroom the hothouse guests are […]

Summer 1939

Texts from Housman

By Randall Jarrell

The logic poetry has or pretends to have generally resembles induction more than deduction. Of four possible procedures (dealing entirely with particulars, dealing entirely with generalizations, inferring the relatively general […]

Autumn 1939

From That Island

By Randall Jarrell

Modern Poetry: A Personal Essay. By Louis MacNeice. Oxford. $3.00 Mr. MacNeice’s matter is more personal than his manner, which is highly unindividual; the straightforward, general, elevating tone, varied judiciously […]

Spring 1940

For an Emigrant

By Randall Jarrell

I In that bad year and city of your birthThey traded bread for bank-notes weight for weight,And nothing but the statues kept the smileThe waltzers wore once: excluding, innocent,The face […]

Winter 1942

The Skaters

By Randall Jarrell

I stood among my sheep As silent as my staff; Up the sea’s massy floor I saw the skaters pass. Long like the wind, as light I flowed upon their […]

Autumn 1942

The Humble Animal

By Randall Jarrell

What Are Years by Marianne Moore. Macmillan. $1.50   I’ve read Miss Moore’s poetry too many years and too many times not to have the feeling that both the poetry […]

Summer 1945


By Randall Jarrell

Bird of the spray, the tree of bones:The tendrils shower you with dew, the smellsOf petals patter in the holes of bone(The yellow nostrils feathered with a barThat stripes, like […]

Spring 1947

The Rising Sun

By Randall Jarrell

The card-house over the fault Was spilt in a dream; your mother’s terraces Of hair fell home to hide The wooden pillow, the sleek dazzled head That bobbed there, a […]

Winter 1964


By Randall Jarrell

"All things become thee, being thine," I think sometimes As I think of you. I think: "How many faults In thee have seemed a virtue!" While your taste is on […]

Spring 1951

All or None

By Randall Jarrell

Each year, just as the blossoms Fall, and the buds curl from the boughs, I hear from the sky a wondering voice: The brass bird that drowses All year on […]

Spring 1951

The Black Swan

By Randall Jarrell

When the swans turned my sister into a swan  I would go to the lake, at night, from milking: The sun would look through the reeds like a swan,  A […]

Spring 1951

The Tower

By Randall Jarrell

He runs his eyes out idly, sliding Above the city’s grey diminished blocks, The patch of earth he has the claim of seeing. His world runs off and ends in […]

Fall 1952

To the Laodiceans

By Randall Jarrell

Back in the days when “serious readers of modern poetry” were most patronizing to Frost’s poems, one was often moved to argument, or article-writing, or saying under one’s breath: What […]

All Or None

By Randall Jarrell

From The Kenyon Review, Spring 1951, Vol. XIII, No. 2 Each year, just as the blossoms Fall, and the buds curl from the boughs, I hear from the sky a […]