Be Careful of Each Other

I saved in my “poetry file” a wonderful poem by a well-known poet that was short, powerful, helpful and reminiscent of the coming of the (so-called) spring. (I live in New England; as I write, I look out my window to see my street flanked by 3-foot snow banks.) The poem involved a hedgehog and seemed a good fit for today’s post.

Yet I am a hopeless copyright partisan. Before posting I wanted to clarify whether or not I would be violating copyright laws by posting a piece of intellectual property without the author’s permission even while rendering full credit to the author. As a result of my conundrum and subsequent internet search, I found an interesting essay about copyright laws and the internet, a portion of which I post below:



Do you see the image above the text? I chose it without the artist’s approval from this website but traced the origin of the image back to this website. Should I feel guilty about it? I’ve done it hundreds of times before. If I stand guilty of this crime, I stand guilty of many others too.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume I’m not alone. The Internet is a vast cauldron of video-sharing, link-sharing, knowledge-sharing, and yes, image-sharing. The spirit of the Internet seems to be that of a free culture. We are less concerned with property rights in cyberspace, and more concerned with community and conversation. . . .

 Read the essay in its entirety.


I have chosen not to post the poem. Even so, truth be told, I would probably get away with it. But a poet’s words — a writer’s words –and an artist’s work  are sacred ground to its creator and, while most would gladly agree to being shared, honor is due the creative process and, more, the creator him or herself.  A work may have been wrenching and harrowing in the making and — should we find it useful — we ought graciously to solicit permission before splashing their hard-won self-expression across a web page .

The poem I will not be publishing today was meaningful and incisive. It involved man who, while mowing his lawn, discovered when the mower repeatedly stalled, that he had overrun a hedgehog, now mutilated.  He had passed it casually in his yard on other occasions and had even fed it. “Burial was no help,” he wrote.  He concluded the poem with a few lines, which — thankfully — I am free to insert at this point since copyright laws allow for usage of up to 200 without needing permission:

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.

(From: “The Mower” by Philip Larkin, from Collected Poems. © Farrar, Straus, Giroux.)

Almighty God, bestow upon us the meaning of words, the light of understanding, the nobility of diction, and the faith of the true nature. And grant that what we believe we may also speak.

Saint Hilary (c. 315-368), Bishop of Poitiers

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About Wendy Murray

Wendy Murray is a veteran and award-winning journalist. She served as associate editor and Senior Writer at Christianity Today magazine and has written extensively for other publications such as Books & Culture and The Christian Century. She has written 11 books.