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A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Cut Grass’

A reading of a short Larkin lyric

‘Cut Grass’ is one of the shortest famous poems by Philip Larkin (1922-85). Completed in June 1971, the poem was published in Larkin’s last volume of poems, High Windows, in 1974. It’s a short lyric about newly cut grass, hovering between celebration and mourning. You can read ‘Cut Grass’ here; in this post, we discuss the poem and offer a brief analysis of its language and themes.

Philip Larkin would write another poem about mowing grass: one of his last poems, ‘The Mower’, was inspired by a real-life incident, when Larkin accidentally killed a hedgehog sheltering in the long grass while he was mowing the lawn. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘First Sight’

A summary of a classic Larkin poem

‘First Sight’ is a short poem written by Philip Larkin in 1956, and published in his 1964 collection The Whitsun Weddings. Unusually for Larkin, it is a rather upbeat poem, a beautiful lyric about the natural world. You can read ‘First Sight’ here; read on for our analysis of this wonderfully affirmative poem.

In summary, ‘First Sight’ describes lambs taking their first steps in the snow, meditating upon the fact that the animals can have no grasp of the world without snow, of the grass and flowers beneath the white wintry canopy that is awaiting them when spring comes. The poem might also, by extension, be said to be about innocence more generally, given that it fuses a number of common tropes associated with innocence: lambs, snow, the new-born. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Going’

A summary of a short Larkin poem

‘Going’, originally titled ‘Dying Day’, is one of Philip Larkin’s earliest mature poems, written in 1946 and published in his 1955 volume The Less Deceived. At once plain-spoken and strangely elusive, ‘Going’ is a lyric about one of the most common themes of Larkin’s poetry: death. You can read ‘Going’ here; below is our analysis of it.

In ten unrhymed lines, ‘Going’ explores death without ever mentioning it by name, instead referring to it, slightly elliptically, as ‘an evening’ that is ‘coming in’. Immediately we have a contrast: something is ‘coming’ but, as the title makes clear, something is also ‘going’: life itself. Read the rest of this entry