Friday, June 10, 2011
Philip Larkin and the Poetry of Lawnmowing
I stumbled on this fascinating article from the Guardian about how there's a surprising genre of poetry devoted to lawnmowing.
I have always thought of lawnmowing as a chore rather than an art form, so this was enlightening, espcially as a move beckons which will involve considerable time cutting grass.
"The poetry of lawnmowing, a surprisingly capacious subgenre of English literature running from Louis MacNeice to Andrew Motion, usually hones in on the touching futility of the ritual. The great lyricist of mowing the lawn is Philip Larkin, who mentions it throughout his poems and letters. "Have bought a new lawnmower ready for the spring offensive," he wrote to a friend in 1981. "Must get the flamethrower serviced, and invest in a few gallon drums of Weedol," writes Joe Moran.
Larkin certainly seems to have a thing about cut grass.
The Mower by Philip Larkin
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.