Randall Jarrell (1914–1965) was born in
Nashville, Tennessee, and earned his B.A. and M.A. at Vanderbilt University.
From 1937 to 1939 he taught at Kenyon College, where he met John Crowe
Ransom and Robert Lowell, and afterward he taught at the University of
Texas. He served in the air force during World War II. His reputation as a
poet was established in 1945 with the publication of his second book, Little
Friend, Little Friend, which documents the intense fears and moral struggles
of young soldiers. Other volumes followed, all characterized by great
technical skill, empathy with others, and deep sensitivity. Following the
war, Jarrell began teaching at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro,
and remained there, except for occasional absences to teach elsewhere, until
his death. Besides poetry, he wrote a satirical novel, several children’s
books, numerous poetry reviews—collected in Poetry and the Age
(1953)—and a translation of Goethe’s Faust.