I'm preparing a lesson on Randall Jarrell's classic World War II poem.
As so often happens, I've found something new; something that I hadn't noticed before; something I wanted to share with you.
From my mothers' sleep I feel 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.
I have always recognized the caustic reference to the State and the ultimate sacrifice it demanded.
For some reason, I have always missed the imagery. "Mother's sleep," "hunched in its belly," and "loosed from its dream of life" are all images of pregnancy and childbirth. Now that I think about it, the ball turret rests on the belly of a B17 much like that of a fetus, hovering innocently "six miles from earth."
So what happens? There is "black flak" and "nightmare fighters." The child awakens to the weapons of death.
It's an abortion that Jarrell is describing, isn't it? Read the last line again. It's an abortion.
Why didn't I understand that before?