How to put yourself in the mind of a rabbit
A summary of a short Larkin poem
‘Myxomatosis’ was written by Philip Larkin in 1954. Myxomatosis, a disease which affects rabbits and is lethal to them, was introduced into Britain in the 1950s in an effort to control the rapidly growing rabbit population. Larkin’s poem is a response to this measure. You can read the poem here; what follows is our analysis of Larkin’s poem.
According to James Booth in his biography, Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love, ‘Myxomatosis’ was prompted by what Larkin described as a ‘foul article’ written by Ronald Duncan and published in Punch magazine that year. In the article, Duncan cheered the arrival of the destructive rabbit disease myxomatosis in his village; Larkin, who often wrote touchingly about the plight of small animals (compare his late poem ‘The Mower’), responded with this short poem, whose title plainly states its subject-matter.
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