Poem of the Week, “Myxomatosis”


by Philip Larkin

Caught in the centre of a soundless field

While hot inexplicable hours go by

What trap is this? Where were its teeth concealed?

You seem to ask.

I make a sharp reply,

Then clean my stick. I’m glad I can’t explain

Just in what jaws you were to supperate:

You may have thought things would come right again

If you could only keep quite still and wait.


A bit of background: myxomatosis is a disease affecting rabbits. If the rabbit has no form of resistance to the disease, myxomatosis can kill a rabbit in two days. One of the most visible symptoms of the deadly disease is that the affected rabbits become lethargic. It was introduced in Britain by humans in an attempt to curb the over-abundant rabbit population after the second world war.  Philip Larkin was a British poet who wrote after WWII. “Myxomatosis” comes from his second volume, The Less Deceived, which appeared in 1955.

More information about myxomatosis is available on Wikipedia.
More information about Philip Larkin is available at The Poetry Foundation, The Poetry Archive,  and Poets.org.


5 thoughts on “Poem of the Week, “Myxomatosis”

  1. Also known as the white blindness in Watership Down! And the title of one of my favorite Radiohead songs. It’s so good and jittery.

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