Sie sind auf Seite 1von 6

Snake Summary Class 10th English

This poem of D.H. Lawrence describes the dual response of the poet to a snake that came to his water-trough to
quench his thirst. There is a conflict between his civilized social education and his natural human instincts. The
voices of the civilized social education tell him that brown-golden snake is poisonous and must be killed. But
his natural human instincts lead him to think that the snake was a guest who had sought his hospitality. In the
end, his natural human instincts win and he regrets at his paltry, vulgar and mean act of throwing a log of
wood at the snake who had come to seek his hospitality.

Snake Visits the Poets Water-Trough A snake visited the poets water trough on a hot afternoon to
quench his thirst. The poet himself had gone to the trough to fill his pitcher. He waited for the snake.
The snake had the right to be served first as he had come to the trough before the poet.

Snake Drinks like Cattle- The snake rested his throat upon the water trough and sipped the water into
his slack long body. After drinking water, he raised his head as cattle do and looked at the poet. He
flashed his forked tongue, thought for a moment and bent down to drink some more water.

Education and Social Conventions- The poets education and worldly understanding made the poet
think that the snake was golden-brown. Such a snake was poisonous and must be killed. And if he were
a brave man, he must take a stick and kill the snake at once.

The Poet Feels Honoured to Have Such a Guest- The poet instinctively liked the snake and was
fascinated by his presence. He thought him like a guest. He felt honoured that the snake had come to
drink at his watertrough and accepted his hospitality. The poet questioned himself as if he were a
coward as he could not kill the snake. He wondered if his desire to talk to the snake reflected his

Afraid but Honoured- The poet admitted that he was afraid of the snake. It was the fear for the snake
that prevented him from killing him. There wasno doubt that he was afraid but he also felt honoured by
his presence. He had come to seek his hospitality from the bottom of the earth.

Drinks to His Satisfaction- The snake quenched his thirst. After drinking to his satisfaction, he raised
his head dreamily. He looked around like a god and then slowly proceeded to move away from the

Poets Protest; Hurls a Log at the Snake- The snake put his head into the hole to go back into the
earth. The poet did not like the snake withdrawing into his black hole. He protested against this idea. He
put down his pitcher, picked up a log of wood and threw it at the snake. It didnt hurt him but he twisted
violently and suddenly disappeared into the hole in the wall.

The Poet Regrets at his Vulgar and Mean Act- The poet immediately regretted at his vulgar and
meant act. He felt sorry for throwing the log at the snake and cursed the voices of education and
civilization. They had shaped his mind and morals. They urged him to kill the snake.

The Poet Remembers the Albatross- The poet felt much like the ancient mariner of Coleridges poem.
The old mariner had killed the innocent and auspicious Albatross in a fit of anger. The poet wished that
the snake would come back. He thought of the snake as a king in exile. He was to be crowned again. He
regretted that he had missed an opportunity of knowing and understanding one of the lords of life.
The Poet Wants to Make Amends- The poet was guilt-ridden. He had thrown a log of wood at the
snake who had come to seek his hospitality. He had to atone for this petty, vulgar and mean act. He had
to give him due honour and respect if he ever came again.

Setting of the Poem Snake

This poem is set in the poets backyard, where there is a water-trough. When the poet goes to the trough to fill a
pitcher with water for his own use, he encounters a snake which has come to the trough before him. The entire
poem revolves around this very encounter.

Summary of Snake by D.H.Lawrence

The poem consists of 19 stanzas of variable lengths. The entire poem consists of 75 lines in total.

1st stanza:

A snake came to my water-trough

On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In this stanza, the poet describes how it was a typical summer day and how he had been wearing pyjamas in
order to cool himself. Again in order to keep cool, he had gone to fetch water from his trough, but found that a
snake had reached before him.

2nd stanza:

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 me.

In this stanza, the poet describes how the trough was kept in the shade of a large carob tree and how that entire
place had a strange smell. When he poet reached with his pitcher, he has to stand and wait for the snake to finish

3rd stanza:

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,

In this stanza, the poet describes how the snake came out of a crack in the wall of his house and how it slithered
leisurely over the edge of the trough and finally came to rest with its throat on the bottom of the stone trough.
Water had fallen in drops from the tap forming a small and transparent pool, from which the snake drank
silently and the poet could imagine the water travelling through its long flexible body.

4th stanza:
Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second-comer, waiting.

In this stanza, the poet says that generally he was the only one to drink out of his trough, but that particular day,
he himself was second to reach the trough and he had to wait as a result.

5th stanza:

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.

In this stanza, the poet describes how the snake stopped drinking at one point and looked at him, in the same
way that cattle drinking in ponds sometimes pause between sips. Then the snake moved its forked tongue
quickly from side to side, thought for a bit and continued to drink again. The poet imagines this snake to be
Typhon, the mythical and monstrous serpent that was descended from Gaia and that was finally defeated by
Zeus by throwing Mount Etna on it, but that still spews up fire and boulders when the volcano erupts.

6th stanza:

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.

In this stanza, the poet says that while he was in Sicily, he had learnt that black snakes will not harm you, but
that golden ones are poisonous. So his education told him to kill the golden snake that had come to his trough.

7th stanza:

And voices in me said, if you were a man

You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

In this stanza, the poet hears voices in his head goading him on to kill the snake with a stick, for that would
prove his masculinity.

8th stanza:

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?

In this stanza, the poet says that he quite liked the snake and was happy that it had come to drink at his trough
like a guest and then to leave as peacefully as he had come to go back to the depths of the earth from which he
imagines it had risen.

9th stanza:
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.

In this stanza, the poet wonders what it was that had stopped him from killing the snake whether it was
because he was a coward, or because he has some unnatural affinity with the snake. In the end he concludes that
it was because he felt honoured to have been visited by the snake.

10th stanza:

And yet those voices :

If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

In this stanza, the poet again hears voices telling him to conquer his fear and kill the snake.

11th stanza:

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.

In this stanza, the poet confesses that he was very scared of the snake, but more than that, he was honoured the
snake had chosen to come only to the poets trough while making its journey out of the earths crust.

12th stanza:

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.

In this stanza, the poet describes how once the snake had finished drinking, it lifted its head slowly and made
quick movements of its tongue as if it were licking its lips in satisfaction that its thirst had been quenched. It
then looked around as if it were lord over all the land and slowly turned its head and then its body to begin its
ascent over the crack in the wall from which it had come.

13th stanza:

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.
In this stanza, the poet describes what he did when he saw the snake putting its head into the crack of the wall
and slowly slithered the rest of its body in after that. The poet protested against its leaving and going back into
the blackness of the hole.

14th stanza:

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,

I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.

In this stanza, how the poet put down his pitcher, picked up some wood and threw it at the trough in a desperate
attempt to stop the snake from leaving.

15th stanza:

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.

In this stanza, the poet says that he thought the log had not hit the snake, but he was wrong. As a result, the
snake speeded up its motion and disappeared into the hole in the wall in a flash like lightning. As the sun was
beating down mercilessly, the poet kept looking at the crack in the wall in awe.

16th stanza:

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.

In this stanza, the poet describes how he was filled with regret that he had acted in such a cruel and petty way
with the snake. He hated himself and the education that had urged him to act in such a manner.

17th stanza:

And I thought of the albatross,

And I wished he would come back, my snake.

In this stanza, the poet says that he felt like the ancient mariner (from Coleridges poem of the same name) who
had killed the albatross for no reason and he wished that the snake would come back to the trough once again.

18th stanza:

For he seemed to me again like a king,

Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

In this stanza, the poet says that the snake should have been a king. Though his place was beneath the surface of
the earth, it had not been crowned there. However, the poet thinks it would be crowned shortly.
19th stanza:

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords

Of life.
And I have something to expiate :
A pettiness.

In this stanza, the poet says that he missed the chance to welcome a lord of life into his home and he must
apologize for his petty behaviour in the matter.

About the Author: David Herbert Lawrence was an English novelist, short-story writer, essayist, playwright,
literary critic and painter. Some of his famous works are Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterleys Lover, New
Poems, Bavarian Gentians, The Ship of Death etc