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Randall Jarrell – I see at last that all the knowledge

Identifier

012548

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

Randall Jarrell (May 6, 1914 – October 14, 1965) was an American poet, literary critic, children's author, essayist, novelist, and the 11th Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a position that now bears the title Poet Laureate.

Towards the end of his life, in 1963, Stephen Burt notes, "Randall's behavior began to change. Approaching his fiftieth birthday, he seems to have worried deeply about his advancing age. . . After President Kennedy was shot, Randall spent days in front of the television weeping. Sad to the point of inertia, Randall sought help from a Cincinnati psychiatrist, who prescribed [the antidepressant drug] Elavil."[

The drug made him manic and in 1965, he was hospitalized and taken off Elavil. At this point, he was no longer manic, but he became depressed again. Burt also states, "In April The New York Times published a viciously condescending review of [Jarrell's most recent book of poems] The Lost World. Soon afterwards, Jarrell slashed a wrist and returned to the hospital."

After leaving the hospital, he stayed at home that summer under his wife's care and returned to teaching at the University of North Carolina that fall.

Then, near dusk on October 14, 1965, while walking along U.S. highway 15-501 near Chapel Hill, N.C., where he had gone seeking medical treatment, Jarrell was struck by a car and killed. In trying to determine the cause of death, "[Jarrell's wife] Mary, the police, the coroner, and ultimately the state of North Carolina judged his death accidental, a verdict made credible by his apparent improvements in health. . .and the odd, sidelong manner of the collision; medical professionals judged the injuries consistent with an accident and not with suicide.

 

A description of the experience

Randall Jarrell – Complete Poems

I see at last that all the knowledge
I wrung from the darkness – that the darkness flung me
Is worthless as ignorance; nothing comes from nothing
The darkness from the darkness.
Pain comes from the darkness
And we call it wisdom
It is pain

The source of the experience

Poet other

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Pain [emotional]

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References