Our favourite Larkin poem
My husband and I love this poem. It renews itself with each reading and the blunt truth that lives in the final lines never ceases to move us. It is so urgent. It is so necessary.
The story is that the great Philip Larkin hated mowing the lawn.
Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion said: “He would stomp up and down the lawn with that mower, wearing his D H Lawrence T-shirt - he always wore that for mowing the lawn. He absolutely hated the job, he had this enormous garden and found the whole business of mowing it a mighty bore."
One day the animal-loving Larkin ran over a hedgehog. In response he wrote this poem.
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)