The Snake

A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before

~ The poem opens with the poet seeing a snake in his water trough on a really hot summer day.
~The poet decides to wait for the snake to drink the water first the snake arrived before the poet.

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of
the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,

– The snake was yellow-brownish in colour. It trailed towards the edge of the stone trough and rested its throat on the bottom of the stone.
– And where the puddle of water had formed,he sipped it sofly through his straight gums.

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting.

~ The poet here displays the fact that even though he owned the water trough st he still had to wait for the snake to finish drinking water.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

~ Here the poet compares the snakes action with a cattle. When the snake lifts his head up from drinking water and looks at his spectator,i.e. the poet, he comapares the action with that of a cattle.

-Then while looking at the poet he flickered his tongue as if to acknowledge the poet.

~ Then he stooped and continued sipping on the water.

~ The poet compares the hole on the earth from which the snake came out as ‘burning bowels’ as the temperature below to soil is high and added to that is the heat of the sun.

~ The poet in this stanza reveals that it is the month of July and he is in Sicily,and the mount Etna is smoking, which doesnt mean that it is smoking a cigar,it means that it is releasing vapors i.e. it is active.

~ The sensible part of the poet brains tells him to kill the snake as it is golden and golden snakes are considered harmful. That’s what he has been taught for so many years,to eleminate the threat.

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

~ The voices inside his head i.e. the voices of the society told him that if he is brave he’ll take a stick and kill the snake.

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?

~ But te poet liked him.He was glad that the snake came to drink water at his trough and then will depart satisfied and thankless,as the snake has equal rights on water as does the poet,back in to the hole under the ground.

Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured.

~ The poet was not sure that if he was a coward not to kill him. Or was it perversity that made him feel like talking to him.
~ Or was is simply his humility that made him feel so honured on the snake’s visit.

And yet those voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

~ And yet there were the practical part of his brain telling him to kill the snake.

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.

~ The poet was conflicted on how to feel. He was afraid but more than that honoured to be able to serve the snake who came out of the dark place inside the earth.

He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.

– The snake after quenching its thirst looked dreamily inyo the sky,his the poet uses a methaphor and compares his actions to a drunk person.
– He then looked into the air with the grace of a god and slowly made its way towards the wall of the water bank. (The snake is acting sort of high-almighty-_-)

And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.

– The snake started entering underground,and started easing his shoulders further going inside into tjw darkness. And as the snake had his back to the poet he flipped( not literally)

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.

– The poet was in spur of a moment and after putting down his pithcher he picked up a log, and no here the log is not clumsy,here the log is maybe a bit heavy which makes the poet clumsy.
(An example of
“Metalepsis” : “Reference to something by means of another thing that is remotely related to it, as through a farfetched causal relationship.”,sort of rhetorical. no need to rattafy this,additional info.)

I think it did not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

– At first the poet thought that the log didn’t hit the snake,but suddenly he noticed that the tail of the snake was left behind which was still writhing (Someone call PETA) and the snake disappeared in the earth.
– The port was left staring at it in awe.

And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

– As soon as his actions registered in the poet’s mind,he regretted his actions ans cursed the human education as this waa what he was taught to do. Eliminate all potential threats.

And I thought of the albatross
And I wished he would come back, my snake.

– Now, those who have paid attention in their literature classes will remember the Rime Of An Ancient Mariner (where a sailor kills the albatross i.e. a duck who was guiding them and later regrets it).
– Here just like the sailor the poet is regretting his decision and wants the snake to come back ( as if!)

For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

– Here the poet compares the snake and a king. Just like when a king is banished from his kingdom, the poet is responsible for sending away the snake. The poet is the sole reason for separating the snake from its natural habitat. The case of the snake is same with that of the king because just as an exiled king comes back with vengeance in his heart, the snake would also come back from the underworld someday soon. The snake awaits to be crowned again, displaying his power over his area.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness.

– ( My favorite part) This poem is actually really deep and is related to the Bible and the Garden of Eden but for now the poet compares the snake to the kings and nobels,calling them sneaky yet majestic.
– And now the poet knows that the snake was of no harm he wants to repent for his sin.

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