Larkin’s 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.

Once when I was driving in the woods I hit an owl. I can’t possibly describe the feeling, of how I didn’t belong there with my stupid machine, how I had mauled the owl’s unobtrusive world. A car is a loud, hard, ugly, cruel, selfish, stupid thing. It is propelled by a kind of metallic flatulence. Yet in the collision it is the owl that dies. This seems a horribly apt metaphor for the way things often are. The final couplet of the poem is all there is to live for.


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