The last line echoes a nursery rhyme ("Sing, sing, what shall I sing?/ The cat's run away with the pudding-string …"). That closing, along with moments like "He tossed his pipes, too hard to teach/ A new-world song, far out of reach," leads me to hear the poem as wondering how to make poems for the modern world (or the American world?)—with an implicit vow to try.
Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Slate Poetry Editor Robert Pinsky will be joining in discussion of "Mowing" and "Pan With Us" this week. Post your questions and comments on the poems, and he'll respond and participate. You can also browse "Fray" discussions of previous classic poems.
TODAY IN SLATE
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The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.