Randall Jarrell

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Nestus Gurley

Jarrell, Randall

Last Updated: Feb-07-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem


Twice a day without fail, at dawn and in late afternoon, Nestus Gurley delivers the newspapers. The boy is a given in the narrator's life, inevitable, an almost mythic presence. While in the real world Nestus is simply an energetic lad ("He has four routes and makes a hundred dollars"), in the world of the narrator's imagination, "He delivers to me the Morning Star, the Evening Star."

One morning the boy makes a paper hat that reminds the narrator "of our days and institutions, weaving / Baskets, being bathed, receiving / Electric shocks . . . " Throughout the poem the boy's steps tap an incomplete musical motif, a motif that needs only another note or two to become a tune. But what is the tune? And why is the tune so important? Even when in his grave on the morning of Judgment Day the narrator will recognize that step and say, "'It is Nestus Gurley.'" [81 lines]

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