In 1914, Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He earned
bachelor's and master's degrees from Vanderbilt University. From 1937
to 1939 he taught at Kenyon College, where he met
John Crowe Ransom and
Robert Lowell, and then at the
University of Texas.
His first book of poems, Blood for a Stranger, was
published in 1942, the same year he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He soon
left the Air Corps for the army and worked as a control tower operator, an
experience which provided much material for his poetry.
Jarrell's reputation as a poet was established in 1945, while he was
still serving in the army, with the publication of his second book, Little
Friend, Little Friend, which bitterly and dramatically documents the
intense fears and moral struggles of young soldiers. Other volumes followed,
all characterized by great technical skill, empathy with the lives of others,
and an almost painful sensitivity.
Following the war, Jarrell accepted a
teaching position at the Woman's College of the University of North
Carolina, Greensboro, and remained there, except for occasional absences to
teach elsewhere, until his death. Even more than for his poems, Jarrell is
highly regarded as a peerless literary essayist, and was considered the most
astute (and most feared) poetry critic of his generation.
Randall Jarrell was
struck by a car and killed at the age of 51 in 1965, in a death that may or may
not have been a suicide.
A Selected Bibliography
The Rage for the Lost Penny (1940)
Blood for a Stranger (1942)
Little Friend, Little Friend (1945)
The Seven-League Crutches (1951)
Selected Poems (1955)
The Woman at the Washington Zoo (1960)
The Lost World (1965)
Complete Poems (1969)
Poetry and the Age (1953)
A Sad Heart at the Supermarket (1962)
The Third Book of Criticism (1969)
Kipling, Auden and Co. (1980)
Goethe, Faust Part I (1972)
Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy (1954)