Randall Jackson Jarrell was born on May 6, 1914 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was the first child to Campbell and Owen Jarrell. He attended Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville and later graduated. He then attended Vanderbilt University through the generosity of his uncle Howell Campbell. His teacher, John Crowe Ransom, considered him “the best by far of the young writers in his workshop.” Jarrell later went on to teach at some well know colleges and universities. He also went into the army and wanted to be a gunner but he failed. Jarrell had a mental break down, and was hospitalized for a while. He was released from the medical center. He was on a trip back to the doctor and he was fatally hit by a car on October 14, 1965
“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” really has no verse nor does it have a rhyme scheme, so it would be classified as a regular meter. It has five lines, and is a good poem. It could really have many different meanings, depending on who the reader is. The main meaning that people often hear about, would be, that this guy is a ball turret gunner and has been chosen to go up in battle. When the wind hits his jacket it then freezes and then with no warning the enemy destroys his body. The only thing that the guys on the ground could do to get his mutilated body out is to wash the turret out. Many people believe that this poem was influenced by his experience in the Air Force. Jarrell wanted to be a gunner. When his chance came up, he was not chosen to be the gunner. He was then transferred to Tucson to serve as an B-29 crewman.
On the other hand there are some people that have criticized the poem. They say that “Jarrell should not tell the horrors of war and let the people find it out when the have to go to war.” These people take the poem apart and twist the meaning to make it mean what the want it to.
Over all this is a great poem. It has many different meanings and most of America can somewhat be like the gunner. They try and try to get what they want and they fail, and not even close to what they wanted.