THE BAT-POET by Randall Jarrell


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Poet/critic Jarrell has made a fable with a message that is likely to flap right over the heads of its intended audience. His bat awakens in daylight to see and hear the things that his fellow bats sleep through. He discovers a talent for making ""word portraits"" and the storyline consists of his difficulties in finding intelligent, appreciative listeners. The mocking bird quarrels with the bat's style and intent while the chipmunk listens with uncomprehending awe at such a gift. The bat's magnum opus is never delivered, because he falls into his hibernation sleep before he can recite it to his own kind. In it is a passage that describes sleeping bats: ""Their sharp ears, their sharp teeth, their sharp faces/ Are dull and slow and mild."" This holds the key to what is wrong with the book. Maurice Sendak has supplied bats that fit the first line with all the accuracy of an exterminator's handbook and the second line describes the story. The author has been lucky in, but not up to, his illustrators this season.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1964
Publisher: Macmillan