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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Jarrell was very aware of meter and form in his poetry, so it is a good bet that he didn't write this poem in free verse—lacking any set structure of rhythm or rhyme—just by chance or out of la...

Speaker

The most significant thing about the speaker is the fact that he's dead. He tells us the tale of his own death. It is also important to think about how he tells us the story. He doesn't seem too wo...

Setting

As we mentioned in our "Speaker" section, the gunner is speaking to us from beyond the grave. But most of the action he describes takes place in and around a WWII bomber. More specifically, in the...

Sound Check

Just because a poem is short, that doesn't necessarily mean it has less going on in the sound department than longer poems. Just look at our friend the haiku—only seventeen little syllables, but...

What's Up With the Title?

As poem titles go, it doesn't get much clearer and straightforward than this one. Jarrell wants us to know right away exactly what is at the core of this poem. He sets us up for a poem about war an...

Calling Card

Being a veteran of WWII, Jarrell wrote a great deal about the experience of war. Another well-known poet, Robert Fitzgerald said Jarrell was, "practically the only American poet able to cope with t...

Tough-o-Meter

This is a pretty easy (very short!) hike. The clarity and directness of this poem's title and last line make it quite simple to catch what is happening at a basic level. But beware of low hanging b...

Trivia

Jarrell wrote children's books. Yes, really. Maurice Sendak (author of Where the Wild Things Are ) did the illustrations. (Source.)Jarrell was best known as a literary critic. He was infa...

Steaminess Rating

Nothing sexy about this one, folks—but Shmoop is going to hit it with a PG for the graphic nature of the poem's last image.
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