This selection, chosen by Andrew Motion himself, is an outstanding representation of the poet’s varied body of work—elegies, sonnets, poems of social and political observation, and unsentimental poems about childhood, post-war England, and natural life—composed over the course of three decades.
About his poetry, Motion has observed: “I want my writing to be as clear as water. No ornate language; very few obvious tricks. I want readers to be able to see all the way down through its surfaces into the swamp. I want them to feel they’re in a world they thought they knew, but which turns out to be stranger, more charged, more disturbed than they realized. In truth, creating this world is a more theatrical operation than the writing admits, and it’s this discretion about strong feeling, and strong feeling itself, which keeps drawing me back to the writers I most admire: Wordsworth, Edward Thomas, Philip Larkin.”
Indeed, a significant and consistent feature of Motion’s work, throughout his shifts in style and changes in imaginative topographies, is his signature clarity of observation, his unwillingness to sacrifice intelligibility or embrace opacity. Instead, Motion employs the full power of the English language to do his bidding, and, in love with words as he is, the words cooperate, communicate—transforming the intangible and the abstract into intelligible images, associations, and ultimately, knowledge.
In his role as poet laureate for the past ten years, Motion has worked to make poetry more widely available to the general public free of charge (through his online archiving of poets reading their work at The Poetry Archive) and has tried to demystify verse, saying simply, “The best poems are those which speak to us about the important things in our lives in a way that we never forget. Any heavier definition than that begins to collapse under its own weight and exclude many forms of poetry.” Motion’s own lyrical poems, many written in formal meter and rhyme, speak to us clearly and memorably, meeting his own challenge with flying colors.
In his new collection of poetry, Andrew Motion — poet laureate of England in 1999 — depicts an intriguing antithetical portrait of his parents. . . . The Mower vividly demonstrates Andrew Motion’s illuminating discovery of his own voice and his gift of voice to both his father’s generation and today’s, a gift that renders this collection worthy of perusal.
—World Literature Today
Andrew Motion’s poems are animated by qualities that have been harder and harder to find in the work of his contemporaries: clarity, intelligence, tenderness. Throughout The Mower is a resplendent mastery demonstrated by precision of observed detail and complex emotion. Here are poems that candle the world: experience is held up to the light of a passionate mind and revealed to be a secret order of pleasure and pain, amplitude and loss. He has plumbed both the private life and the historical record in a rare and enthralling way. American readers have a chance now, at last, to catch up with a career that has helped invigorate British poetry. It’s not a chance anyone who knows how language can shape our lives will want to miss.
Motion is a beautiful lyricist, unpretentiously and precisely describing those things worth having even as he casts unsettling shadows across them.
—Robert Potts, Guardian
The overriding impression is of poems able to be “surprised by joy” … and to celebrate imaginative fecundity.
—Carol Rumens, Independent
Motion’s greatest and most distinctive gift . . . is to look squarely at the world and describe it with a plain and unsentimental eloquence that makes worldly value seem all the more questionable.
—Bernard O’Donoghue, Independent on Sunday
This title is now available as an eBook through Google Play.