Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

How does Randall Jarrell use form? What poetic devices can you find in his work that either augment the effectiveness of or take the place of regular rhyme and traditional rhythms?

What is Jarrell’s attitude toward war as he expresses it in his poems? Does his attitude always seem the same?

If, as one of Jarrell’s titles suggests, his poems are often about losses, what different kinds of losses can you find in his work?

Are Jarrell’s women speakers persuasive as women, do you think? Why or why not? Why do you think he chooses to speak as a woman in some of his poems?

Books and reading are a major theme in Jarrell’s poetry. What does he do with this theme? Consider especially “Girl in a Library” in your discussion.

For what things do Jarrell’s poetry express nostalgia?

How does Jarrell portray children? Are his children all the same, or different? Why do you think they have so much in common?