A Youth Mowing
There are four men mowing down by the Isar;
I can hear the swish of the scythe-strokes, four
Sharp breaths taken: yea, and I
Am sorry for what’s in store.
The first man out of the four that’s mowing
Is mine, I claim him once and for all;
Though it’s sorry I am, on his young feet, knowing
None of the trouble he’s led to stall.
As he sees me bringing the dinner he lifts
His head as proud as a deer that looks
Shoulder-deep out of the corn; and wipes
His scythe-blade bright, unhooks
The scythe-stone and over the stubble to me.
Lad, thou hast gotten a child in me,
Laddie, a man thou’lt ha’e to be,
Yea, though I’m sorry for thee.
Not one of Lawrence’s more anthologised poems, but I love how its spare ballad-like quality combines with the lyricism of the third stanza to give a wryly beautiful take on the male-female dynamic.
This beautiful, poignant poem does indeed appear quite often in anthologies and has just reappeared, one hundred years after its debut, in “The Graphic Canon, Vol.3: From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest,” edited by Russ Kick.
Thanks Mark. I’ve not come across it often myself, compared with, say, ‘Snake’ or ‘Piano’, so I’m glad to learn that it’s better known than I thought.