04 June 2015

Poetry Thursday - "Cut Grass" by Philip Larkin

Cut Grass

Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

-- Philip Larkin (via) - hear him read it here

"Captures the transient beauty of a June day with a wistful perfection" says the Journal of Experimental Botany (from which the photo comes). 

The website of the Philip Larkin Society says: "This is sometimes thought as in some ways a companion piece to ‘The Trees’, and another tying Larkin elegiacally to an England somewhere in the middle of the last century. But ‘The Trees’ is a discussion and a reflection on mortality, the possibility for change, the impermanence of life, and the possibility of renewal, another use of the image of a tree as a life force (as in ‘Love Songs in Age’). A bundle of tightly compressed metaphors. ‘Cut Grass’, on the other hand is almost pure imagery. The poet is completely invisible. ... The observational detail is total, unmodulated, unrefracted by any thought of the writer."

Philip Larkin (1922-1985) worked for many years as librarian at the University of Hull. Born and educated in Coventry, he fared quite badly in his School Certificate exam at age 16 but went on to get a First at Oxford. His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945 and foreshadow the unique sensibility and maturity that characterizes his later work. In 1946, Larkin discovered the poetry of Thomas Hardy and learned from Hardy how to make the commonplace and often dreary details of his life the basis for extremely tough, unsparing, and memorable poems. With his second volume of poetry, The Less Deceived (1955), Larkin became the preeminent poet of his generation, and a leading voice of a group of young English writers that came to be called 'The Movement'.

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