Do memories plague their ears like flies?
They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows.
Summer by summer all stole away,
The starting-gates, the crowd and cries –
All but the unmolesting meadows. (Lines 19-24)
The present extract from Philip Larkin’s poem At Grass is an interesting speculation on the part of the poet about the feeling of some retired racehorses which once won horse races, cups, and wild cheers from an excited crowd who staked money on them. Those very horses, quite undistinguishable now, are at grass under the cool shade of trees.
The poet wonders to ascertain whether the thrilling memory of their grand feats of the past yet haunts and pricks them. Do they still feel pangs for the days that are no more ? This is definitely not so. They shake their heads idly, as they graze at the growing gloom that covers and turns them into shadows. The seasons have rolled silently and swiftly and the grandeur of the past is all no more. The crowded gates of the racing enclosures, the loud cheers of the warm supporters who staked money on different famed horses and such sights and sounds are no more real to those horses. What remains to them is the plain, unaffected grassy meadow for their quiet grazing in the cool shade of trees.
Larkin’s lines have an ironic sting. Once famed race-horses are now blissfully ignorant of what they once enjoyed. The crude reality, only known to them, is the untrimmed meadows to graze carelessly. The underlying sense has, however, a two-fold manifestation. First, this indicates the inevitable change in the situation of life over time. Second, this also suggests the spirit in which this change, even an ironic and sad one, is to be accepted.
Also read; Bring out Wordsworth’s glorification of childhood in his poem “Ode on Intimations of Immortality.”
Also read; “Away! away! for I will fly to the/ Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards…” Explain the lines from Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale