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What are the themes covered in "Cut Grass" by Philip Larkin?

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gwtgthv | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 27, 2011 at 11:31 PM via web

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What are the themes covered in "Cut Grass" by Philip Larkin?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 28, 2011 at 1:21 AM (Answer #1)

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A theme that occurs in many of Larkin's poems is that of death. In this poignant and concise poem, death is presented in nature through the "cut grass" of the title, and the poem acts as a meditation on death and its role in life.

The poem begins with the reference to the "death" of the "cut grass," which ironically happens in June: a time of vibrancy and life in nature. This seems to suggest the way in which death can occur at any moment, and even at a time when everything else is fully alive, death can surprise us. Yet equally, death is not viewed in solely a negative fashion. The reference to three types of flowers seem to present that death is just part of a cycle of life, and has its own beauty. That death is part of a cycle is likewise reinforced by the movement of the clouds at the end of the poem:

And that high-builded cloud 
Moving at summer's pace.

These final lines of the poem seem to suggest that life will carry on, and that nature and existence is not stopped by death. This contributes to a somewhat hopeful tone at the end of this poem. It does recognise the essential part of life that death occupies, but it also puts this in its wider context: that of a cycle of life and death that carries on and outlives our brief lives.

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alexprajapati | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted March 28, 2011 at 12:08 AM (Answer #2)

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Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It 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.

 

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.

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