Philip Larkin (1922–1985)

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.

The British poet Larkin received numerous awards for his writing, including an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1984. He received the the German Shakespeare-Preis in 1976. He was Chairman of the Booker Prize Panel in 1977, was made Companion of Literature in 1978, and from 1980 to 1982 served on the Literature Panel of the Arts Council. The Library Association made him an Honorary Fellow in 1980 and the University of Hull made him a Professor in 1982. In 1984 he was elected to the Board of the British Library, but declined to succeed Sir John Betjeman as Poet Laureate, being unwilling to accept the level of media attention associated with the position.