Snake Poems - Poems For Snake

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Snake - Poem by David Herbert Lawrence

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

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,

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

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.

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

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?

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

Comments about Snake by David Herbert Lawrence

  • Gold Star - 9,312 Points Michael Morgan (9/3/2014 11:06:00 PM)

    phrases like 'writhed like lightning' and 'earth-lipped fissure' as well as much excellent and close, outwardly directed observation, mark this as a great poem, albeit marred by its rambling quality and its indecisiveness. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 32,587 Points Bri Edwards (7/28/2014 11:47:00 PM)

    a lovely poem, sort of in tribute to a sometimes-thought-loathsome creature, SNAKE! and also a condemnation of some of the thinking and actions of men/women/children towards snakes. i came to read this after D.H. Lawrence was mentioned in a comment by Daniel Brick, on my poem Salamander. :) bri Already Reported Reply

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Poems About Snake

  1. 1. Snake , David Herbert Lawrence
  2. 2. Snake , Langston Hughes
  3. 3. The Boy And The Snake , Charles Lamb
  4. 4. Snake , Padraic Colum
  5. 5. Snake , Theodore Roethke
  6. 6. To The Snake , Denise Levertov
  7. 7. The Snake , William Matthews
  8. 8. Snakes , Eileen Myles
  9. 9. What The Rattlesnake Said , Vachel Lindsay
  10. 10. The Andante Of Snakes , Arthur Symons
  11. 11. Lizards And Snakes , Anthony Evan Hecht
  12. 12. A Snake Yarn , William Thomas Goodge
  13. 13. Before The Snake , Nathaniel Tarn
  14. 14. The Double-Headed Snake Of Newbury , John Greenleaf Whittier
  15. 15. The Snakes of September , Stanley Jasspon Kunitz
  16. 16. The Deer And The Snake , Kenneth Patchen
  17. 17. What The Snake Saw , James Stephens
  18. 18. The head of the snake , Raymond A Foss
  19. 19. The Head of the Snake - 2 , Raymond A Foss
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