By Paul Muldoon


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.

My Interpretation of the Poem

This poem dives deep into the importance of the hedgehog. What is this hedgehog? Muldoon describes it as a scared, shy, and timid creature yet also a very powerful figure. On the last stanza, Muldoon relates the Hedgehog to a god saying, "We forget the god under this crown of thorns." The hedgehog represents that person in everyone's life that seems trivial but can have a huge impact on the world if they were cared for and loved. Muldoon implies that we have persecuted the hedgehog as he alludes to the story of Jesus Christ's life and that is why the hedgehog will not trust anyone anymore. The title of the poem was chosen very wisely because hedgehogs look so kind and cuddly however they have spikes coming from them to fend off the persecutors. If cared for, a hedgehog can be a man's best friend.

Theme of the Hedehog

There are so many ways to interpret the theme and meaning of the poem. I think that the one theme that sticks out to me the most is devote time in others and never take a person for granted. That person could turn out to be your future best friend. There are two different sides to a hedgehog. There is the pokey, defensive side and then there is the cute, cuddly side as pictured above. So I think that Muldoon is trying to establish an idea that it may take time to see the different qualities in a person but once you can see through the outside, you reach gold.
Irish Writers In America - Paul Muldoon reads Hedgehog

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet living in America. He has won the Pulitzer prize and the T.S. Eliot prize for poetry. He was a professor at Oxford University for five years and now works as a professor at Princeton. His style of poetry is said to be sly and witty. He is also known for his using an odd meter and slant rhyme. He grew up in Northern Ireland and pretty much taught himself using an encyclopedia which accounts for his arcane bits of information.
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