'Cut Grass' by Philip Larkin

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High Windows1971Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the deathIt dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Cut Grass: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation


Philip Larkin is regarded as one of the most significant poets of the twentieth century. His poems have been analyzed and interpreted in numerous ways, and his reputation as a writer has only grown over time. Among his vast collection of poems, "Cut Grass" is an intriguing piece that has attracted a lot of attention. The poem was first published in his 1955 collection, "The Less Deceived," and has since become one of Larkin's most well-known and admired poems.

"Cut Grass" captures the essence of a summertime scene, where the smell of freshly cut grass fills the air. The poem is short, with only three stanzas, but it is rich in meaning and symbolism. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve deeper into the meaning of "Cut Grass," exploring the themes, imagery, and structure of the poem.


At its core, "Cut Grass" is a poem about the transience of life. The poem captures a moment in time, when the speaker is experiencing the sights and smells of summer. Yet, the poem also reminds us that the beauty of the moment is fleeting, and that life is temporary. The opening line, "Cut grass lies frail," sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The grass, which was once thriving and strong, is now fragile and vulnerable, reminding us of the impermanence of life.

The theme of mortality is further emphasized in the second stanza, with the line, "The mind blanks at the glare." The bright sunlight is blinding, and the speaker is momentarily overwhelmed by its intensity. This momentary blindness serves as a metaphor for the realization that our lives are brief and will eventually come to an end. The speaker is momentarily blinded by the glare, just as we are blinded by the fact that our lives will one day come to an end.

The theme of transience is also apparent in the last stanza, where the speaker reflects on the fact that the moment will soon be over. The line, "Nothing is ever as perfect as you want it to be," reminds us that even the most beautiful moments in life are fleeting and imperfect. The poem reminds us to appreciate the moments of beauty in our lives, as they will not last forever.


One of the most striking aspects of "Cut Grass" is its vivid imagery. Larkin uses sensory language to bring the poem to life, capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of a summer day. The opening line, "Cut grass lies frail," conjures up an image of a freshly cut lawn, with the blades of grass lying flat and lifeless.

The second stanza is particularly rich in imagery, with the line, "The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found/ A hedgehog jammed up against the blades." This moment is particularly jarring, as the beauty of the summer day is interrupted by the gruesome discovery of a dead hedgehog. The use of the word "jammed" is particularly effective here, as it conveys the suddenness and violence of the hedgehog's death.

The final stanza is equally rich in sensory language, with the line, "A perfect lawn/ Wavering on reflectors of heat." This image of the lawn "wavering" in the heat is particularly evocative, capturing the shimmering quality of a hot summer day. The contrast between the beauty of the lawn and the fragility of the cut grass reminds us of the transience of life.


The structure of "Cut Grass" is relatively simple, with three stanzas of four lines each. The poem has a consistent rhyme scheme, with the first and third lines rhyming, and the second and fourth lines rhyming. This creates a sense of cohesion and balance throughout the poem.

The use of enjambment is also noteworthy, as it creates a sense of continuity between the stanzas. The first two stanzas flow into each other, with the second stanza beginning with the word "And," suggesting that the speaker is continuing their thoughts from the previous stanza. The final stanza is slightly more disjointed, with a break between the second and third lines. This break serves to emphasize the finality of the moment, and the fact that the beauty of the scene is fleeting.


In conclusion, "Cut Grass" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the themes of transience and mortality. Larkin's use of vivid imagery and sensory language brings the poem to life, capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of a summer day. The structure of the poem is simple, but effective, creating a sense of balance and continuity throughout.

"Cut Grass" is a testament to Larkin's skill as a poet, and his ability to capture the complexities of life in a few short lines. The poem reminds us to appreciate the beauty of the world around us, even as we come to terms with the fact that life is temporary. As the poet himself once said, "We should be careful/ Of each other, we should be kind/ While there is still time."

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Cut Grass: A Masterpiece of Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, and his poem "Cut Grass" is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time. The poem is a beautiful depiction of the joys of summer and the fleeting nature of life. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, structure, and language.


The poem "Cut Grass" is a celebration of summer and the beauty of nature. The poem is filled with vivid imagery that captures the essence of summer, from the "greenness" of the grass to the "blue sky" above. The poem also explores the theme of the passage of time and the transience of life. The speaker reflects on how the "cut grass" will soon wither and die, just like everything else in life.


The poem is structured in three stanzas, each with four lines. The first stanza sets the scene, describing the "greenness" of the grass and the "blue sky" above. The second stanza explores the theme of the passage of time, with the speaker reflecting on how the "cut grass" will soon wither and die. The third stanza concludes the poem with a sense of acceptance, as the speaker acknowledges the inevitability of death and the beauty of life.


The language of the poem is simple and straightforward, yet it is also rich in imagery and metaphor. The use of the word "greenness" in the first stanza is a perfect example of this. The word not only describes the color of the grass but also suggests the vitality and energy of summer. The use of the word "cut" in the title of the poem is also significant. It suggests that the grass has been intentionally cut, just as life is intentionally lived.

The metaphor of the "cut grass" is also significant. It represents the transience of life and the inevitability of death. The speaker reflects on how the "cut grass" will soon wither and die, just like everything else in life. This metaphor is a powerful reminder that life is fleeting and that we should cherish every moment.

The use of the word "whispers" in the second stanza is also significant. It suggests that the speaker is listening to the grass, as if it has something important to say. This personification of the grass is a beautiful way of capturing the beauty and mystery of nature.


In conclusion, "Cut Grass" is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of summer and the transience of life. The poem is a celebration of the beauty of nature and a reminder that life is fleeting. The language of the poem is simple yet rich in imagery and metaphor, making it a joy to read and analyze. Philip Larkin's "Cut Grass" is a timeless classic that will continue to inspire and delight readers for generations to come.

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