The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

"The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is a five-line poem by Randall Jarrell published in 1945. It is about the death of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft.

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Jarrell, who served in the Army Air Forces, provided the following explanatory note:

A ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the fetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose.

Reviewer Leven M. Dawson says that "The theme of Randall Jarrell's 'The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner' is that institutionalized violence, or war, creates moral paradox, a condition in which acts repugnant to human nature become appropriate."[1] Most commentators agree, calling the poem a condemnation of the dehumanizing powers of "the State", which are most graphically exhibited by the violence of war.[2]

Due partly to its short length, "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" poem has been widely anthologized. In fact, Jarrell came to fear that his reputation would come to rest on it alone.[3]

The poem inspired the play, "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Anna Moench, which premiered in New York City at the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2008 and was extended to play at The Space in Long Island City. A nod to the poem can also be found in John Irving's 1978 novel The World According to Garp, in which the protagonist's father died from a "rather careless lobotomy" by enemy gunfire while serving as a ball-turret gunner in World War II.

References

  1. ^ Leven M. Dawson. from The Explicator 31.4 (December 1972), Item #29.
  2. ^ Patrick J. Horner. from The Explicator 36.4 (Summer 1978), pp. 9-10.
  3. ^ Charlotte H. Beck. from Worlds and Lives: The Poetry of Randall Jarrell. 1983. Associated Faculty Press, Inc.

External links

1945 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).

Ball turret

A ball turret was a spherical-shaped, altazimuth mount gun turret, fitted to some American-built aircraft during World War II. The name arose from the turret's spherical housing.

It was a manned turret, as distinct from remote-controlled turrets also in use. The turret held the gunner, two heavy machine guns, ammunition, and sights. The Sperry Corporation designed ventral versions that became the most common version; thus, the term "ball turret" generally indicates these versions.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engined heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry (prototype Model 299/XB-17) outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps' performance specifications. Although Boeing lost the contract (to the Douglas B-18 Bolo) because the prototype crashed, the air corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances, becoming the third-most produced bomber of all time, behind the four-engined B-24 and the multirole, twin-engined Ju 88.

The B-17 was primarily employed by the USAAF in the daylight strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets. The United States Eighth Air Force, based at many airfields in central, eastern and southern England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime area bombing in the Combined Bomber Offensive to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944. The B-17 also participated to a lesser extent in the War in the Pacific, early in World War II, where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping and airfields.From its prewar inception, the USAAC (by June 1941, the USAAF) promoted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a relatively fast, high-flying, long-range bomber with heavy defensive armament at the expense of bombload. It developed a reputation for toughness based upon stories and photos of badly damaged B-17s safely returning to base. The B-17 dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. Of approximately 1.5 million tons of bombs dropped on Nazi Germany and its occupied territories by U.S. aircraft, over 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s. In addition to its role as a bomber, the B-17 was also employed as a transport, antisubmarine aircraft, drone controller, and search-and-rescue aircraft.

As of October 2019, 9 aircraft remain airworthy, though none of them were ever flown in combat. Dozens more are in storage or on static display. The oldest of these is a D-series flown in combat in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Index of World War II articles (T)

T-26

T-27

T-28 Super Heavy Tank

T-28

T-34 variants

T-3

T-35

T-37 tank

T-38 tank

T-40

T-43 tank

T-44

T-50 tank

T-6 Texan variants

T-6 Texan

T-60 tank

T-70

T & G Building, Brisbane

T. E. Burridge

T. H. Jordan

T. V. Soong

Tōgō Heihachirō

Tōseiha

Tōyō Miyatake

T1-323

T11 torpedo

T13 Beano Grenade

T14 Heavy Tank

T17 Deerhound

T17E1 Staghound

T18 Boarhound

T20 Medium Tank

T27 Armored Car

T29 heavy tank

T30 Heavy Tank

T34 Calliope

T55E1 Motor Carriage

T7 Combat Car

T92 Howitzer Motor Carriage

Tachiguishi-Retsuden

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Tadamichi Kuribayashi

Tadashi Sumiyoshi

Tadeusz Żenczykowski

Tadeusz Żychiewicz

Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski

Tadeusz Borowski

Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński

Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz

Tadeusz Gajcy

Tadeusz Kurcyusz

Tadeusz Kutrzeba

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Tadeusz Pełczyński

Tadeusz Piskor

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Timeline of World War II (1940)

Timeline of World War II (1941)

Timeline of World War II (1942)

Timeline of World War II (1943)

Timeline of World War II (1944)

Timeline of World War II (1945)

Timeline of World War II

Timothy Mason

Tina Aumont

Ting Chao

Tinian

Tinsel (codename)

Tinus Osendarp

Titanic (1943 film)

Titi Buengo

Tito Puente

Titus Brandsma

Tizard Mission

TKS (EST)

TKS

TM-35 mine

To End All Wars

To Have and Have Not (film)

To Hell and Back (film)

To Live in Peace

To the People of the United States

To the Shores of Iwo Jima

To the Shores of Tripoli

Tobin Wolf

Tobruk (1967 film)

Tobruk (2008 film)

Tobruk (game)

Toby Low, 1st Baron Aldington

TOG1 (tank)

TOG2 (tank)

Toini Gustafsson

Toivo Mikael Kivimäki

Toivo Tikkanen

Tokeitai

Tokio Jokio

Toku Daihatsu-class landing craft

Tokugawa Satonari

Tokugawa Yoshihiro

Tokyo Boys

Tokyo Conference

Tokyo Express

Tokyo Rose

Tolbiac (Paris Métro)

Toldi (tank)

Tolland-class attack cargo ship

Tom Brown (footballer born 1919)

Tom Colten

Tom Derrick

Tom Dowd

Tom Edwin Adlam

Tom Gehrels

Tom Gorman (umpire)

Tom Harmon

Tom Landry

Tom Lantos

Tom Metzger

Tom Murphy (U.S. politician)

Tom Pocock

Tom Poston

Tom Seeberg

Tom Stagg

Tom Steed

Tom Whittaker (footballer)

Tomasz Konarzewski

Tomasz Stankiewicz

Tomislav Ivić

Tomislav Sertić

Tomitarō Horii

Tommaso Lequio di Assaba

Tommy Bond

Tommy Hitchcock, Jr.

Tommy Kono

Tommy Lawton

Tommy Muldoon

Tommy Prince

Tomorrowland

Tomoshige Samejima

Tomoyuki Yamashita

Tone-class cruiser

Tong Linge

Tonight and Every Night

Tonopah Army Air Field

Tonowas

Tony Butkovich

Tony Canadeo

Tony Christopher, Baron Christopher

Tony Curtis

Tony Freitas

Tony Hancock

Tony Heurtebis

Tony Hillerman

Tony Peyton

Tony Priday

Tony Randall

Tony Rolt

Tony Stein

Tony Strobl

Too Late the Hero

Toon Studio (Walt Disney Studios Park)

Top Secret (B-29)

Topaz (1945 film)

Topaz War Relocation Center

Topf and Sons

Topi Mattila

Topography of Paris

Topovske Šupe

Tor Skjønsberg

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Torashirō Kawabe

Tore Blom

Tore Eriksson

Tore Keller

Torgny Segerstedt

Toropets-Kholm Operation

Torpedo boat type 35

Torpedo Run

Torpedoboot Ausland

Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion

Torstein Raaby

Torsten Sylvan

Tortoise heavy assault tank

Tosa-class battleship

Toshinari Maeda

Toshinari Shōji

Toshio Miyazaki

Toshio Mori

Toshio Ohta

Toshio Shiratori

Toshizō Nishio

Tosia Altman

Total war

Tour Égée

Tour Adria

Tour Areva

Tour Ariane

Tour AXA

Tour CBX

Tour d'Argent

Tour Daewoo

Tour de Nesle

Tour Descartes

Tour Défense 2000

Tour EDF

Tour Europlaza

Tour France

Tour Franklin

Tour Gan

Tour Generali

Tour Granite

Tour Initiale

Tour Les Poissons

Tour Montparnasse

Tour Pleyel

Tour Sans Fins

Tour Sequoia

Tour Super-Italie

Tour T1

Tour Total

Tours Aillaud

Tours Société Générale

Tower 270

Town-class destroyer

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

Townsend Hoopes

Toy Theatre

Toyama Maru

Toyo Mitunobu

Toyohashi Air Raid

Tracy Barnes

Trafford Leigh-Mallory

Traian Lalescu

Traian Popovici

Train of Life

Training Within Industry

Training Women for War Production

Trandumskogen

Transbaikal Front

Transcaucasian Front

Transit of German troops through Scandinavia (World War II)

Transnistria (World War II)

Transport Plan

Trasimene Line

Traudl Junge

Traugott Herr

Trawniki

Treaty battleship

Treaty Faction

Treaty of Craiova

Treaty of Paris

Treaty of peace with Italy (1947)

Treaty of San Francisco

Treaty of Versailles

Treaty of Vis

Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany

Trebah

Treblinka extermination camp

Trench knife

Treuenbrietzen

Treznea massacre

Tri-City Skins

Tribhuvan of Nepal

Tricase

Tricycle (spy)

Trident laser

Trinitite

Trinity (nuclear test)

Trinité - d'Estienne d'Orves (Paris Métro)

Tripartite Pact

Triple Cross (1966)

Tristan Bernard

Tristan Tzara

Tristram Cary

Triumph of the Virtues (Mantegna)

Trocadéro (Paris Métro)

Trocadéro

Trochenbrod

Troop Train

Trose Emmett Donaldson

Trottoir roulant rapide

Trouw

Trow Ghyll skeleton

Troy A. McGill

Troy H. Middleton

Truman H. Landon

Truman Kimbro

Truman O. Olson

Truppführer

Truxtun Hare

Tryggve Gran

Trygve Bratteli

Trygve Lie

Trygve Stokstad

TS Queen Mary

Tscherim Soobzokov

Tsuboi Kōzō

Tsuguhiko Kozuka

Tsukasa Umesaki

Tsukuba-class cruiser

Tsunejirō Ishii

Tsuruta Yoshiyuki

Tsushima Maru

Tsutomi Sakuma

Tsvi C. Nussbaum

TT pistol

Tuan Le

Tubalcain Alhambra

Tudor Arghezi

Tudor Vladimirescu Division

Tuesday in November

Tuileries (Paris Métro)

Tuileries Palace

Tul Bahadur Pun

Tule Lake War Relocation Center

Tulle murders

Tulsa race riot

Tungchow Mutiny

Tunisia Campaign

Tunisian Victory

Tunku Osman Tunku Mohammad Jewa

Tupolev SB

Tupolev TB-3

Tupolev Tu-2

Turbinlite

Ture Nerman

Turkestan legion

Turney W. Leonard

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Tuskegee Airmen, Inc

Tuskegee Airmen

Tuviah Friedman

Tweed New Haven Regional Airport

Twelfth Army (Japan)

Twelfth Army (United Kingdom)

Twelfth United States Army Group

Twelve O'Clock High

Twentieth Air Force

Twentieth Army (Japan)

Twentieth convoy

Twenty-Eighth Army (Japan)

Twenty-Fifth Army (Japan)

Twenty-First Air Force

Twenty-First Army (Japan)

Twenty-Ninth Army (Japan)

Twenty-Second Air Force

Twenty-Second Army (Japan)

Twenty-Seventh Army (Japan)

Twenty-Third Air Force

Twenty-Third Army (Japan)

Twenty Fourth Air Force

Two Down and One to Go

Two women (novel)

Two Women

Tykocin pogrom

Tyler Kent

Tyler Pounds Regional Airport

Type 010-class minesweeper

Type 021-class missile boat

Type 024 class missile boat

Type 025-class torpedo boat

Type 037-IG class missile boat

Type 037-II-class missile boat

Type 037-class submarine chaser

Type 039 submarine

Type 041 submarine

Type 051 destroyer

Type 051B destroyer

Type 051C destroyer

Type 052 destroyer

Type 052B destroyer

Type 052C destroyer

Type 053 frigate

Type 053H3 frigate

Type 054 frigate

Type 062-I-class gunboat

Type 062-class gunboat

Type 067 landing craft utility

Type 07

Type 071 amphibious transport dock

Type 072

Type 072II

Type 072III

Type 073 landing ship medium

Type 074 landing ship medium

Type 082-class minesweeper

Type 091 submarine

Type 092 submarine

Type 093 submarine

Type 094 submarine

Type 1 37 mm Anti-Tank Gun

Type 1 47 mm Anti-Tank Gun

Type 1 Chi-He

Type 1 Heavy Machine Gun

Type 1 Ho-Ha

Type 1 Ho-Ki

Type 10 120 mm AA Gun

Type 10 Grenade Discharger

Type 10 Grenade

Type 100 submachine gun

Type 11 37 mm Infantry Gun

Type 11 75 mm AA Gun

Type 11 Light Machine Gun

Type 14 10 cm AA Gun

Type 14 8 mm Nambu Pistol

Type 2 20 mm AA Machine Cannon

Type 2 Ho-I

Type 2 Ka-Mi

Type 2 Ke-To

Type 2 rifle grenade launcher

Type 206-class gunboat

Type 26 revolver

Type 3 12 cm AA Gun

Type 3 80 mm AA Gun

Type 3 Chi-Nu

Type 3 Heavy Machine Gun

Type 3 Ho-Ni III

Type 3 Ka-Chi

Type 30 bayonet

Type 30 rifle

Type 31 75 mm Mountain Gun

Type 312 minesweeper

Type 38 cavalry rifle

Type 38 rifle

Type 4 20 cm Rocket Launcher

Type 4 20 mm Twin AA Machine Cannon

Type 4 70 mm AT Rocket Launcher

Type 4 75 mm AA Gun

Type 4 Chi-To

Type 4 Ha-To

Type 4 Ho-Ro

Type 4 Ka-Tsu

Type 4 Ke-Nu

Type 41 75 mm Cavalry Gun

Type 41 75 mm Mountain Gun

Type 44 Cavalry Rifle

Type 45 240 mm howitzer

Type 5 15 cm AA Gun

Type 5 Chi-Ri

Type 5 Ke-Ho

Type 5 Rifle

Type 5 To-Ku

Type 730 CIWS

Type 88 75 mm AA Gun

Type 89 15 cm Cannon

Type 89 Chi-Ro

Type 89 Grenade Discharger

Type 89 I-Go

Type 89 Medium Tanks

Type 90 240 mm railway gun

Type 91 torpedo

Type 92 Battalion Gun

Type 92 Heavy Machine Gun

Type 92 Jyu-Sokosha

Type 92 torpedo

Type 93 and 100 flamethrowers

Type 93 torpedo

Type 94 37 mm Anti-Tank Gun

Type 94 75 mm Mountain Gun

Type 94 8 mm Pistol

Type 94 90 mm Infantry Mortar

Type 94 Disinfecting Vehicle and Type 94 Gas Scattering Vehicle

Type 94 tankette

Type 95 Ha-Go

Type 95 recon car

Type 95 torpedo

Type 96 15 cm Howitzer

Type 96 150 mm Infantry Mortar

Type 96 25 mm AT/AA Gun

Type 96 AA Gun Prime Mover

Type 96 Light Machine Gun

Type 97 20 mm AT Rifle

Type 97 57 mm tank gun

Type 97 81 mm infantry mortar

Type 97 90 mm Infantry Mortar

Type 97 Chi-Ha

Type 97 grenade

Type 97 Light Machine Gun

Type 97 Service Dress

Type 97 ShinHoTo Chi-Ha

Type 97 Sniper Rifle

Type 97 Te-Ke

Type 97 torpedo

Type 98 20 mm AA Half-Track Vehicle

Type 98 20 mm AA Machine Cannon

Type 98 20 mm AAG Tank

Type 98 Ke-Ni

Type 98 So-Da

Type 99 (camouflage)

Type 99 88 mm AA Gun

Type 99 Grenade

Type 99 Light Machine Gun

Type 99 rifle

Type I Rifle

Typex

Typhoon Cobra (1944)

Tyrone Power

Tyssem

TZ-45

Télégraphe (Paris Métro)

Randall Jarrell

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

Among other honors, Jarrell was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for the years 1947–48; a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, in 1951; and the National Book Award for Poetry, in 1961.

Sperry Corporation

Sperry Corporation (1910−1986) was a major American equipment and electronics company whose existence spanned more than seven decades of the 20th century. Through a series of mergers it exists today as a part of Unisys, while some other of its former divisions became part of Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, and Northrop Grumman.

The company is best known as the developer of the artificial horizon and a wide variety of other gyroscope-based aviation instruments like autopilots, bombsights, analog ballistics computers and gyro gunsights. In the post-WWII era they branched out into electronics, both aviation related, and later, computers.

Stephanie Burt

Stephanie Burt is a literary critic, poet, professor at Harvard University and transgender activist. The New York Times has called her "one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation." Burt grew up around Washington, D.C. She has published four collections of poetry and a large amount of literary criticism and research. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Believer, and The Boston Review.

The Best War Ever

The Best War Ever: America and World War II is a revisionist history book written by Dr. Michael C. C. Adams (professor of history at Northern Kentucky University). The book was and first published by the Johns Hopkins University press in 1993 as part of its "American Moment" series, edited by University of Wisconsin–Madison history professor Stanley I. Kutler. In a 2004 survey of American college history instructors, the book was voted #2 in the "most likely to plagiarize" category, finishing just behind Amusing the Million by John Kasson.

War poet

A war poet is a poet who participates in a war and writes about his experiences, or a non-combatant who writes poems about war. While the term is applied especially to those who served during World War I, the term can be applied to a poet of any nationality writing about any war, including Homer's Iliad, from around the 8th century BC, and the Old English poem The Battle of Maldon, that celebrated the actual battle of 991, as well as poetry of the American and the Spanish Civil War, the Crimean War, etc.

Languages

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