restricted access Jarrell's Allegories
Abstract

Recuperating allegorical criticism allows us to reconsider Randall Jarrell's poetry in relation to the fate imagined for the human body in the modern world. With reference to "The Woman At the Washington Zoo," "The Bronze David of Donatello," and one of his final poems, "The Tree," I suggest that Jarrell's metamorphic allegories serve well as evidence for the processes (and not solely the products) of philosophical inquiry. Such "process allegories" complicate the ontology of Jarrell's personae when assumed to be, after Heidegger, as at once human and world-forming. Instead, becoming human in Jarrell's poetry requires entertaining alternative sites of subjectivity—including the suspension of allegory in service to a specific moral—and may be revealed by the light of other, vestigial traces (usually non-sentient, plant and animal forms) through which anterior versions of being have passed.


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