Academy of American Poets
View Cart | Log In 
Subscribe | More Info 
Find a Poet or Poem
Advanced Search >
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Randall Jarrell
Randall Jarrell
Known for his essays, criticism, and poetry, Randall Jarrell was born in 1914...
More >
Want more poems?
Subscribe to our
Poem-A-Day emails.
FURTHER READING
Related Poems
The Earthquake She Slept Through
by Mary Jo Bang
Poems about Pets
Eighth Air Force
by Randall Jarrell
Flush or Faunus
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Goldfish Are Ordinary
by Stacie Cassarino
Jogging with Oscar
by Walt McDonald
Mother Doesn't Want a Dog
by Judith Viorst
My Grandmother's White Cat
by Maurice Kilwein Guevara
Ode on the death of a favorite cat
by Thomas Gray
Stones in the Air
by Anna Journey
That Sure is My Little Dog
by Eleanor Lerman
tomorrow I leave to El Paso, Texas
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Yellow Beak
by Stephen Dobyns
Poems about the Self
canvas and mirror
by Evie Shockley
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Excelsior
by Walt Whitman
I Am Not Yours
by Sara Teasdale
I Am!
by John Clare
In Knowledge of Young Boys
by Toi Derricotte
In Whoever's Hotel Room This Is
by Matt Rasmussen
Intimacy
by Paisley Rekdal
Red Bank
by Lesle Lewis
Song for Future Books
by Joanna Fuhrman
Song of Myself, I, II, VI & LII
by Walt Whitman
The Suicide
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
The Summer of Reconciliation
by D. Nurkse
The Whole World Is Gone
by Jennifer Grotz
Untitled [Is is]
by Srikanth Reddy
Your Brain Is Yours
by Natalie Lyalin
Sponsor a Poet Page | Add to Notebook | Email to Friend | Print

Next Day

Order Now Buy the CD  
by Randall Jarrell

Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Food-gathering flocks
Are selves I overlook.  Wisdom, said William James,

Is learning what to overlook.  And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I've become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.

When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I'd wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children.  Now that I'm old, my wish
Is womanish:
That the boy putting groceries in my car

See me.  It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered.  How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile

Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life.  Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home.  Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind

Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water--
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don't know . . . Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,

My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them.  As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:

I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate.  Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: "You're old."  That's all, I'm old.

And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her I hear her telling me

How young I seem; I am exceptional;
I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional,
No one has anything, I'm anybody,
I stand beside my grave
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.





Audio Clip
October 29, 1964
Guggenhiem Museum
From the Academy Audio Archive



From The Complete Poems by Randall Jarrell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1969, renewed 1997 by Mary von S. Jarrell. Reprinted with permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved.

CAUTION: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, LLC.

Larger TypeLarger Type | Home | Help | Contact Us | Privacy Policy Copyright © 1997 - 2014 by Academy of American Poets.