Good Poems: “Night Mowing,” by Peggy Simpson Curry

There’s a wonderful little poem entitled “Night Mowing” from Wyoming’s first Poet Laureate, Peggy Simpson Curry. It comes from her collection of poems called Summer Range, published in 1981. The last four lines are a perfect metaphor for a tractor mowing grass at night:

The purring tractor rubs against the dark

Like a great cat whose eyes peer through

The river mist in yellow glow as though

In search of birds in midnight air.

The rhythm of the poem, written mostly in blank verse, gives the poem its power; further, it matches the rhythm of the tractor as it mows. The second line cleverly substitutes a pyrrhic foot for that of an iambic, followed by a spondee, although one could easily read the second line as iambic too due to modulation of “a” and “cat.”  Formal verse critic Timothy Steele would certainly agree.

Either way Simpson presents us a good lesson in matching the rhythm and stress of our poems with the action and emotion we are trying to create.

 

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