The Hedgehog

hh-learEdward Lear (1812 – 1888)

 

Letter from Ted Hughes to Edna Wholey, 1950

Last night as I was coming down the field I heard a commotion in the hedge, and after a while, out trundled a hedgehog, merry as you like, and obviously out for a good time. I thought he might make a jolly companion for an evening so I brought him in.
After a while I noticed he had disappeared and later heard a noise just like the sobbing of a little child, but very faint, and it continued for long enough. I traced it to a pile of boxes, and there was my comrade, with his nose pressed in a corner in a pool of tears, and his face all wet, and snivelling and snuffling his heart out. I could have kissed him for compassion.
I don’t know why I’m so sympathetic towards hedgehogs. Once when John & I threw one in the pond, it nearly broke my heart to see it swimming to the shore. It must be that they’re something my affection can’t touch, and as through all my life the things I’ve loved best have been prickles towards that love, hedgehogs have become a symbol of such unrequiteable desire, and move me so nostalgically.
I carried sad Harry outside and let him go—he wouldn’t even roll up he was so sad.

 

Published in: on December 18, 2016 at 9:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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At the Edges and the Side

menzel hedgehogsAdolf Menzel (1815 – 1905)

 
The Cage

It tried to get from out the cage;
Here and there it ran, and tried
At the edges and the side,
In a busy, timid rage.

Trying yet to find the key
Into freedom, trying yet,
In a timid rage to get
To its old tranquillity.

It did not know, it did not see,
It did not turn an eye, or care
That a man was watching there
While it raged so timidly.

It ran without a sound, it tried,
In a busy, timid rage,
To escape from out the cage
By the edges and the side.


James Stephens (1882 – 1950)

 

Hedgehog

 
 
The snail moves like a
Hovercraft, held up by a
Rubber cushion of itself,
Sharing its secret
 
With the hedgehog. The hedgehog
Shares its secret with no one.
We say, Hedgehog, come out
Of yourself and we will love you.
 
We mean no harm. We want
Only to listen to what
You have to say. We want
Your answers to our questions.
 
The hedgehog gives nothing
Away, keeping itself to itself.
We wonder what a hedgehog
Has to hide, why it so distrusts.
 
We forget the god
under this crown of thorns.
We forget that never again
will a god trust in the world.
 
Paul Muldoon