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The Mower

March 2011

Nomination: The Mower [12 June 1979. From Collected Poems 1988]

p>I would like to nominate ‘The Mower’, partly because I have an unaccountable interest in old mowers, partly because of the very precise date of its inspiration (10/06/79), but mostly (98%) because of ‘Next morning I got up and it did not’, and the killer final lines.

Doubtless it’s a minority view, but ‘The Mower’ marks the summit of Larkin’s work for me. Combined with the references to the poem’s genesis in various letters, and Monica Jones’s testimony that ‘he came in howling…’, it indicates to me the hidden heart of the man. ‘What will survive’ of him is that ‘we should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.’

John Whitbourn

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