Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season

Our bedroom window blog

(Our open bedroom window this morning)

After we mowed on Saturday, for some reason, the sweet fragrance of the cut grass was particularly intense, so that smelling the combined essence of freshly-cut grass and honeysuckle blossoms coming through the bedroom window was very nearly a spiritual experience.

I’ve always loved the smell of new-cut grass.  In fact, when I was nineteen or twenty (the age of my children now), I wrote a poem about it:  Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season.  It actually got published in a literary magazine, and the editors were kind enough to write a little note to me. I can’t remember all the words of their note exactly, but I do recall the last line : 

“Wonderful descriptive images with lively metaphors…but the pun was intrusive.”

Hee, hee…that makes me laugh every time I remember it because it wasn’t the first (or the last) time I heard that criticism.  And of course they were probably right.  I’m pretty sure that none of the poets we now consider great included “intrusive” puns in their poems. But I find it so very difficult to resist wanton wordplay.  After all, for me, writing poetry is about the sheer delight of playing with language, and there’s nothing I find more amusing than a good (or bad) pun.  

So, even though we’re a bit past the first lawn mowing of the season, I thought I’d share the poem I wrote about it over thirty years ago, complete with flagrant pun.  Can you find it?  Maybe those editors didn’t appreciate my wordplay, but I hope that you do.  And, of course, I hope you like my poem, too.  🙂

Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season

Winter-sealed windows muffle morning
And the sunshine serenade
Of silver blades on green.
Lone droning melody—long over dew.

Rasping open, the window inhales, gasping
As life and light rush through.
Draperies flutter like pale cobwebs
Swept aside in spring cleaning.
Green air filters through the screen
Almost strained of winter’s ghosts.

Air greening! Bare greening!
Sun and rain in warm light showers
Combine—a pure and golden wine.
Pale embryos too long confined
Beneath the earth begin to stir. 

Something in me moves
Forgotten seeds
Planted in heart grooves
In springs before cold dormant seasons.
They stir once more and feed
On pulsing blood.
New rivers running in a flood
Through a singing heart.


14 Responses to “Psalm Upon Hearing the First Lawnmower of the Season”

  1. Betsy Says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE it Beth… You are just so good with words… I hope you will think about writing a children’s book sometime. You really could do it because you are so gifted. Think about it!!!!


  2. jayne Says:

    I think your little pun is perfect!! Wonderful psalm! You really do have a way with words and language Beth.

  3. Judy Says:

    This is so pretty. I noticed the pun right away, too. That picture from your bedroom window is really something. I cannot imagine how wonderful it would be to wake up in the morning and look out at that view and feel the dew seeping through the window along with the smells of the morning.

  4. june Says:

    Well done! I’ve mowed twice already in the week I’ve been here…the grass needed it thanks to lots of rain, but I confess, I also just wanted to be doing it…it’s a form of meditation for me.

  5. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Great! And the pun is fun! Ha!

    I love love love the view out of your window. I’m sure you never tire of it.

  6. Jeff Says:

    Well, I can see where the editors may have had a point! But Shakespeare engaged in quite a bit of punnery, did he not?

    I mowed for the first time this year last Thursday – looks like I’ll be mowing again on Friday. 10″ of rain so far in the last two weeks! I can’t say as how mowing is “meditation” for me, though! 🙂

  7. eemilla Says:

    I love, love, love seeing the mountains over the clouds; there is nothing better than driving up the mountain to ski thinking that the day will be dreary then riding up the lift and breaking through the clouds to see the islands of mountain peaks.

    Poetry should be about playing with words, and I love your alliteration and similes throughout your writing. I really enjoyed the poem which of course was chock full of alluring alliteration (if not assonance).

  8. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    Ut oh, I think I’m guilty of the puns, lol.

    I’m not into poems Beth but I can tell you that was incredibly beautiful. No wonder why it was published.

    I also love the smell of grass. Years ago my daughter gave me perfume that smelled like grass. They made a few different kinds, like earth, grass, sky, ocean, and they really smelled like the thing. You either loved it or hated it. I loved the grass and sure would love to find some again.

  9. ginger Says:

    I love the image of the opening of the window and curtains. Sweet smell of grass!

  10. Ariel Says:

    As always, your writing is stunning and pure. I’ve always loved this poem, and I love it even more reading it now. The photo, too, is lovely; I love how the dark metering on the mullions, window frame, and bush creates an abstract composition.

  11. Benjamin Says:

    Hey–there’s no problem with punning away! This poem is certainly ‘planted’ in my memory! When the mower comes the grass is a’frayed! (OK, so that was a little bit of a stretch!)

  12. Ariel Says:

    A’frayed! Hahaha…. Benjamin, you’re a dork. 🙂

  13. colleen Says:

    We are kindred punsters. Except I didn’t write that well at 20. Maybe I’ll dig out an old one and post it sometime soon.

  14. Sharon Says:

    First of all, if I had that window next to my bed, I would probably never get up. Love the poem (not too sure I love the pun although most of the time your puns leave me helpless). My favorite lines: “Rasping open, the window inhales, gasping/As life and light rush through.” Wow.

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