Robert Frost's "Mowing"

Contrary to the labor described in the poem it reads fast and smooth. Looking for lawn care, lawn maintenance, lawn fertilizer, lawn irrigation, weed control, lawn aeration, landscaping, flowers, landscape lighting, holiday decorations and snow removal in Des Moines, Iowa? visit our office at 2473 SW 7th St. Des Moines, IA or call us at 515-279-4008.The language is accessible and plain without unnecessary hurdles. The speaker is engaged in "Mowing" a field of grass with a "long scythe" (line 2). The speaker is alone and

There was never a sound beside the wood but one,

And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.

What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;

Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,

Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound--

And that was why it whispered and did not speak.

It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,

Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:

Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak

To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,

Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers

(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.

The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.

My long scythe whispered best lawn seed review left the hay to make.

Deafening Whisper

The only audible sound is shade tolerant grass seed "long scythe whispering to the ground". Most readers can relate to this if they have undertaken a task, writing may be a good example, in which they were totally alone. There are sounds made by the tools that the laborer is using, but these sounds fade quickly into the background of the work. Again, it is easy to imagine Frost using mowing as a metaphor for writing: the stroke of the pen on the page, the crackling of the keys on the typewriter, the shuffling of pages, etc. Does one stop the work and focus on the "whisper"?

Ironic Balance

Rich irony bursts from this poem in a way that does not create an overwhelming feeling of helplessness or meaninglessness because the balance of sound and silence, toil and idleness, and love "that laid the swale in rows" creates truth for the speaker. The speaker knows full well that despite all of its effort the grass will continue to grow and more pressingly the cut grass will become "hay to make".


Subtleties in the imagery of the poem do not take away from the pleasure of reading the poem and this is partly why Robert Frost is immortal. The speaker uses plain language, but the brilliance of the poem shines because even though the diction is transparent the imagery is charmingly specific. Nods to "easy gold", "swale in rows", "feeble-pointed spikes of flowers" / (Pale orchises)", and "a bright green snake" could be delved into, but would that toil produce best way to grow grass effect beyond the sentiment of the piece?


"Mowing" works contemporarily despite advances in technology: weed whackers, lawnmowers, etc. Most readers have toiled in their yards tending to the grass that never stops growing and the hard work pays off when the lawn glistens with a newfound order and delineation. Is the work for nothing because the grass continues to grow? Or is the cyclical nature of labor the harbinger of truth? A job well done always needs another look.