Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Kindness of a Poem

This poem made me almost giggle when I first read it. Yeah, the word "hedgehog" makes me sort of smirk. Want to cackle or gasp with the goofiness it calls up. I keep thinking of Bill-What's-His-Name?-Murray- in Caddyshack. Hedgehog hedgehog hedgehog. A dead hedgehog. (Or was it a gopher in that flick?) Regardless, you get my point.

But the poem has a decidedly different tone than that Bill Murray comedy. Perhaps it's more of a "Rushmore" or "Lost in Translation" Bill Murray poem.

Yes. There's a darkness here. A sweetness here. A message here. A religion here. A recipe here for post-death-mourning-rage-anger-peace.

Kindness is the call of the poet.

While there is still time, let's be kind.

Poem: "The Mower" by Philip Larkin, from Collected Poems. © Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Reprinted with permission.
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The 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.

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