Special Session Announcement

IF Special Session ― At Grass
Hi IF visitors. Our special session starts today
Let’s read a poem by Philip Larkin, “At Grass”.
Read it silently first, and then read it aloud. Enjoy its rhythm.
Next, write your impressions, questions, anything you feel on the comment box.
After a week or so, prof. Takahashi will make some comments. 
He is professor emeritus of English literature, Tokyo University.
See you later!
Phillip Larkin, Photograph by Fay Godwin. ©The British Library Board

19 thoughts on “Special Session Announcement

  1. it’s a good poem it has a lot of deep meaning
    in fact i love to read poetry it’s one of my favorite material in college ,poetry in general takes you to another world
    it’s the world of imagination and some times it takes you to the real of things Maybe to the real of harm , the real of beauty , the real of human being just in poetry i can write until next day how Special feeling it gives to you


  2. Hi, Dado. You are the first to visit the post. Thanks. Masamitsu Saito(see his works: Today’s sketch sereies) will take part in this session with his illustration. Enjoy it!


  3. Some time ago I read one of M. Heidegger’s statements. It was something like this: Because of technics and science we less and less read and understand poets. I don’t know if it’s true, but I try to read poems as often as possible 🙂 Through poems reading I can understand Reality in different way than by book of physics for instance.
    In ancient Greece poets were treated like a kind of philosophers – prophets/bards who explained The World. They were providing knowledge of spiritual world. And I still believe in this way of understanding of poetry (connection of feeling and knowledge – the real way of understanding)


    • Hi Soha and welcome to IF 🙂 you can add a link of your photos here or attach them in a comment box on our FB page https://www.facebook.com/IFbooks-191061831275616/
      In case that you want to share your photos with other friends in a post please contact us by sending us a message to our Facebook page .
      Thanks and hope to see your participation in IF 


  4. In my understanding “they” have got their peaceful mind at the last stanza but I also can hear their voice: how do you know we would feel happy until the moment we die?


  5. I enjoyed reading this poem and reading about it from different sources as well 🙂
    The first thing that i felt when i read is the overwhelmed sadness and nostalgic tone , shade , shelter , fifteen years ago …
    the poem is simple to be understood which makes it more easy to be remembered , but it implies many interpretations, and I always have a question about poetry and if it should be about meaning , feeling , message more than being clear and understood easily?
    The connection between distance and time as the lines go on (as horses race )and flow as (a narrative ) give it more depth
    words such crowd &cries have a strong & double effect
    but I’m a little bit uncertain about the last stanza as in spite that their names slipped they stand at ease , gallop for joy ! here i feel that there’s a merge between the relieve & being unknown forgotten ! what do you think my friends ?


  6. The poem is too difficult for me, a Japanese student, to fully understand. This is my impression and interpretation. I think “grass” means the grass which is shadowed by the stable,as the second line of the “cold shade” and the last lines of the fifth stanza indicates. The grass is not noticed by people, till the blowing wind shows it is unkempt.
    ” Cups and Stakes and Handicaps ” in ” Junes ” in the second stanza suggest horse races. The owner of the horses and the stable won the cup of a race many years ago. This poem shows the contrast between the glorious and “inglorious” people. The grass symbolizes the people who are mute like ” inglorious Milton, “but who have their say. Akio



    • Hi, Akio. May be you are right. I wrote my impression for the poem below. But I read your comment again, then I thought the point of view you pointed out is clearly described in the poem. The poem shows some contrasts between light and shadow; sun and dark, rich high-class people and humble blue-workers of grooms and his son, honoured horses and retired ones, real life and fleeting moments, free and fetter, and so on. It includes complicated many layers of meanings.


    • はい、詩を読んだ感想を書いてみてください。簡単な英語でかまいません。感じたこと、思ったことをお願いします。
      Hi, Shinsuke, thank you for visiting our site. Try to write your impressions of this poem with plain English. Hope you’ll enjoy this session. Thanks again!


  7. Poetry is difficult for me. I feel it is a very personal impression of poet and written by words like a private code. Also I feel as if poets enjoy making a distant allusion. This is an excuse for me who can’t understand poems. So, what sould I do for this English poem? I have to make a confession; I read a Japanese version, though the language used is one of the important elements of poems (eg. plural meanings of a word, its sound, its figurative sense, its cultural background etc.). I perceived from the poem that the prosperity and honours in human society are just forlorn and transitory, and for “them” (horses) its world has been behind them because it was not their world at all and now they finally got free and relax. And after reading, me too, I felt relieved.


  8. Hi,Miho. I am impressed with the contrast between the light and dark; the high-class and the lower class you mention.
    I am wondering what is the difference between “grass” in ”At Grass” and “grass ” in “Leaves of Grass” by
    Walt Whitman.


    • Akio, as I wrote above, poetry is far from my forte. For me, it seems to be almost the same as most of modern arts, that is, it is creator’s self-absorbed works. Probably I haven’t encountered ones which strike a chord deeply in my heart. Poor miho, so maybe your wonder takes me to the new step to the field of poetry. I will try to read Leaves of Grass to find what “grass” is implying. Thanks for your inspiration and give me for a while to tell you my opinion.


  9. I’m sorry for the late reply. I’m wondering about their wish and his remembrance: They want to get anonymous or not? And the onlooker has nostalgia or not?
    What I’m more interested is, however, how long the onlooker has kept watching them at grass.

    In the first stanza, “the cold shade they shelter in” implies that the sun is still shining high above the head. So, it’s perhaps early afternoon. The poet writes “dusk” in the fourth stanza and he also writes “in the evening” in the last stanza. In June of Europe,
    sunset is past 9. So, therefore from the fist stanza to the last stanza time has passed for at least six hours. What and where was the onlooker doing so long hours?

    The more I read this poem, the less I understand it.

    Ryohei, Japan


  10. The phrase “stand at ease ” in the last stanza shows that the horses are satisfied with the current surroundings around them and have nothing to worry about and feeling relieved after going through lots of difficulties and tough times. I think Philip Larkin wanted to tell us that we should reconsider what we believe valuable or worthy is really so. He wanted to tell us that we should take time and think about what we are aiming for at the cost of our precious time is really worthy or valuable. I think that’s what Philip Larkin wanted to tell us through this poem. When we die, we never say that we should have spent more time working or earning money. We should think over what we are living for.


    • Hi Takashi 🙂 I liked your approach and the question that you ended your interpretation with is actually an essential point that may the whole poem revolves about .
      thanks Takashi


  11. Pingback: Special Session – from prfo. Takahashi’s comment – IF

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