Poem of the Week, by Philip Larkin

Never done before, Mary OliverOnce, at the end of a book club discussion held in the library of a women’s prison, the women (who are addressed as “offenders” on the prison P.A. system, as in, “Offenders, cell check in fifteen minutes”) took turns asking me personal questions from a list they had prepared. I remember only one of them: “If you had to choose one word to complete the sentence ‘She was ____’ on your tombstone, what would you want it to be?” “Kind,” I said. “That I was kind.”

The Mower, by Philip Larkin

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.

For more information about Philip Larkin, please click here.

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  1. Tara Guy · May 29, 2017

    What a poignant little poem, what a sad little tale…I feel Larkin’s dismay and shock at this inadvertent ending of a small life by his own hand. I appreciate his deep response and its translation into his wise and wonderful words of advice…..Be careful of each other and be kind while there is still time. Let us go forth with care and kindness.


  2. alisonmcghee · May 29, 2017

    Yes – let us go forth with care and kindness. Beautifully put, Tara.


  3. Micki Blenkush · June 2, 2017

    Both the poem and your story before it are touching. Thank you.


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