Parable For A Certain Virgin

Oh, ponder, friend, the porcupine;
Refresh your recollection,
And sit a moment, to define
His means of self-protection.

How truly fortified is he!
Where is the beast his double
In forethought of emergency
And readiness for trouble?

Recall his figure, and his shade-
How deftly planned and clearly
For slithering through the dappled glade
Unseen, or pretty nearly.

Yet should an alien eye discern
His presence in the woodland,
How little has he left to learn
Of self-defense! My good land!

For he can run, as swift as sound,
To where his goose may hang high-
Or thrust his head against the ground
And tunnel half to Shanghai;

Or he can climb the dizziest bough-
Unhesitant, mechanic-
And, resting, dash from off his brow
The bitter beads of panic;

Or should pursuers press him hot,
One scarcely needs to mention
His quick and cruel barbs, that got
Shakespearean attention;

Or driven to his final ditch,
To his extremest thicket,
He'll fight with claws and molars (which
Is not considered cricket).

How amply armored, he, to fend
The fear of chase that haunts him!
How well prepared our little friend!-
And who the devil wants him?

by Dorothy Parker

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