Archive for May 18, 2015

"Mov[ing] like a hovercraft . . ."

“mov[ing] like a hovercraft” across one of the granite steps that lead to the front porch

Earlier this afternoon when I spotted a snail on one of the steps to the front porch, I thought of the snail in Paul Muldoon‘s poem “Hedgehog,” the subject of my post from March 4. As I watched the snail glide across the granite, still wet from the rain, I remembered Muldoon’s snail “mov[ing] like a hovercraft, held up by a/Rubber cushion of itself,/Sharing its secret/With the hedgehog.”

And I thought of these lines from my post on March 4:

I cannot say precisely why Muldoon chose to run the simile ‘The snail moves like a/Hovercraft’ from the first line to the second, but I can say—and did say to my students—that it’s an example of enjambment, something to try if we want to achieve a similar run-on effect.

As we begin drafting our own poems, I keep thinking about the pleasure of reading that simile, the surprise followed by recognition. Never before had I thought of a snail moving like a propeller-driven hovercraft. And never before had I thought of the hedgehog and the snail as kindred animals for their ability to retreat into themselves.

The snail, the hovercraft, the hedgehog, the crown of thorns: these are now linked in my mind. That’s what ‘Hedgehog’ has given me.