Randall Jarrell

(May 6, 1914 – October 14, 1965 / Nashville)

Eighth Air Force - Poem by Randall Jarrell

If, in an odd angle of the hutment,
A puppy laps the water from a can
Of flowers, and the drunk sergeant shaving
Whistles O Paradiso!--shall I say that man
Is not as men have said: a wolf to man?

The other murderers troop in yawning;
Three of them play Pitch, one sleeps, and one
Lies counting missions, lies there sweating
Till even his heart beats: One; One; One.
O murderers! . . . Still, this is how it's done:

This is a war . . . But since these play, before they die,
Like puppies with their puppy; since, a man,
I did as these have done, but did not die--
I will content the people as I can
And give up these to them: Behold the man!

I have suffered, in a dream, because of him,
Many things; for this last saviour, man,
I have lied as I lie now. But what is lying?
Men wash their hands, in blood, as best they can:
I find no fault in this just man.


Comments about Eighth Air Force by Randall Jarrell

  • Susan Williams (10/8/2015 1:09:00 PM)

    The last two lines make me cringe and shiver and feel the force of his heavy gray soul and its outlook on the life he's seen (Report)Reply

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Read poems about / on: war, water, dream, people, sleep, flower



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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