Poetry

Philip Larkin – The Mower

“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.”

– Philip Larkin


Philip Larkin’s poem, The Mower, is a simple and heartbreaking verse about how to take care of each other and look out for one another. The accidental death of the tiny hedgehog at the blades of the large machine cause a rupture in the poet’s world; not just the feeling of loss of a creature he had known, but also the sense of responsibility, of a clumsy personal act that was not ill-intentioned, but ended in tragedy. The episode highlights the urgency for kindness today, at this moment, ‘while there is still time.’


The Mower

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.

Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
From: The Complete Poems

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