Reality and the artistic vision : a study of Randall Jarrell's poetic style

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jean Rodenbough (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Fred Chappell

Abstract: Randall Jarrell was a poet who made painstaking efforts to reproduce in his writing a total sense of reality. He was an interpreter and a translator. His artistic interpretations of the demands of life are an extraordinary way of defining the ordinary, so that even tedium can become interesting and despair can have its own dignity. His translations are chiefly from the work of Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet with whom Jarrell had much in common as to style, despite the separation of time and locale. What one thinks of as characteristic of Jarrell's poetry includes a style which works with the vocabulary and diction of everyday life, and with themes which never quite get away from the poignance of lost things— loss of one's youth, of loved ones, of love itself, of a desire even for living. This kind of loneliness is found in both Jarrell's own choice of themes as well as in his choice of poems which he translates into a language he himself spoke--that of a well-educated middle-class African. A sampling of the poems Jarrell never published, until they were collected posthumously in his Complete Works, should be illustrative of his characteristic choice of language and theme, and should demonstrate how Jarrell served as an interpreter of ordinary living. His worksheets for a translation of Rilke's "The Widow's Song" further demonstrate Jarrell's meticulous efforts not only to translate the sense of the poem faithfully, but to put into his own language what Rilke had said so well in German. Through all these poems the reader will find the artist at work explaining life with the simplicity and truth it deserves.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1973
Jarrell, Randall, $d 1914-1965 $x Criticism and interpretation
Jarrell, Randall, $d 1914-1965 $x Style

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