Randall Jarrell

By Robert Lowell 1917–1977 Robert Lowell
The dream went like a rake of sliced bamboo,
slats of dust distracted by a downdraw;
I woke and knew I held a cigarette;
I looked, there was none, could have been none;
I slept off years before I woke again,
palming the floor, shaking the sheets. I saw
nothing was burning. I awoke, I saw
I was holding two lighted cigarettes. . . .
They come this path, old friends, old buffs of death.
Tonight it’s Randall, his spark still fire though humble,
his gnawed wrist cradled like Kitten. “What kept you so long,
racing the cooling grindstone of your ambition?
You didn’t write, you rewrote.... But tell me,
Cal, why did we live? Why do we die?”

“Randall Jarrell” from Collected Poems by Robert Lowell. © 2003 by Harriet Lowell and Sheridan Lowell. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. www.fsgbooks.com

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2003)

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Poet Robert Lowell 1917–1977

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Subjects Poetry & Poets, Death, Reading & Books, Living, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Robert  Lowell

Biography

Robert Lowell is best known for his volume Life Studies, but his true greatness as an American poet lies in the astonishing variety of his work. In the 1940s he wrote intricate and tightly patterned poems that incorporated traditional meter and rhyme; in the late 1950s when he published Life Studies, he began to write startlingly original personal or "confessional" poetry in much looser forms and meters; in the 1960s he wrote . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Poetry & Poets, Death, Reading & Books, Living, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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