The Mower

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.

Summary of The Mower

  • Popularity of “The Mower”: Philip Larkin, a distinguished English poet and novelist wrote The Mover. It is short a narrative poem famous for the theme of showing kindness. It was first published in 1979. The poem narrates an event when the poet accidentally kills a hedgehog with his lawnmower. It also illustrates how small incidents give us lifelong lessons.
  • “The Mower” As a Representative of Kindness: The poem revolves around a simple incident of killing a hedgehog. The poet, while working in his garden, kills a hedgehog by mistake. Soon he realizes what damage he has done and feels sorry for it. He says he has not only seen that animal but also fed him once like a pet. Next morning when he wakes up, he finds everything going on the same track only while the poor animal would not see the sun again. The poet connects this incident with life and asks the readers to be kind and thoughtful. He suggests we should pay attention to our surroundings and look for tiny creatures. If we are careless, we may hurt others unintentionally.
  • Major Themes in “The Mower”: Kindness and sympathy are the major themes of this poem. On a surface level, the poet narrates a tragic incident of killing a tiny creature that has taught him a lifelong lesson. However, on a deeper level, the poet addresses mankind and urges to need kindness. Death is unavoidable, and we never know when we are going to die, he says, adding we should be kind and friendly toward each other. He emphasizes we should value each other because life never gives a second chance.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Mower”

Literary devices are tools used by writers to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes to make texts more appealing to the reader. It must be well-noted that ‘The Mower is a short narrative poem with very few literary devices. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been discussed below. 

  1. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. There are no metaphors in the poem.
  2. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over the next line. For example,

Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “A hedgehog jammed up against the blades”, “Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world” and “I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.”
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /i/ in “Next morning I got up and it did not” and the sound of /e/ in “Of each other, we should be kind.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “Is always the same; we should be careful.”
  4. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. There are no alliterations used in the poem.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Mower”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas and one couplet in this poem.
  2. Tercet: A tercet is a three-lined stanza borrowed from Hebrew poetry. Here, the first three stanzas are tercet.
  3. Couplet: A pair of successive lines are called couplet. They may or may not have rhymes and are of the same length.
  4. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful for a speech to emphasize the importance of kindness and good behavior. These could also be used in for children to teach to be kind towards nature, animals and poor people.

“Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.”