The subject of hedgehogs brings to mind a lovely -- if sad -- poem by Philip Larkin. (Of course, "lovely -- if sad" perhaps describes the lion's share of his poems.) It is one of the few poems written by Larkin between the publication of High Windows in 1974 and his death in 1985.
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
Philip Larkin, Collected Poems (Faber and Faber 1988).
In a May 20, 1979, letter to his friend Judy Egerton, Larkin wrote: "At Easter I found a hedgehog cruising about my garden, clearly just woken up: it accepted milk, but went back to sleep I fancy, for I haven't seen it since." Anthony Thwaite (editor), Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, 1940-1985 (Faber and Faber 1992). On June 10 of the same year, Larkin wrote to Egerton: "This has been rather a depressing day: killed a hedgehog when mowing the lawn, by accident of course. It's upset me rather." Ibid. Larkin wrote "The Mower" on June 12.
Betty Mackereth, who worked with Larkin at the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull, wrote the following comment about the poem:
"I remember too well Philip telling me of the death of the hedgehog: it was in his office the following morning with tears streaming down his face. The resultant poem ends with a message for everyone."
The Philip Larkin Society Website (May 2002).