Class 10 English Notes

CBSE Class 10 English Poetry 5 Snake

Snake – D.H. Lawrence



Snake – D.H. Lawrence


The poem talks about the peaceful coexistence between man and the other creatures in the world. It also talks about man’s sins and the guilt which he has when he fails to perform his duty of respecting these other creatures which are God’s creations.

It is an extremely hot day, the poet comes to his water trough to quench his thirst. There he sees a golden-brown snake already drinking water. He is afraid and at the same time, welcomes his guest. He considers himself next in turn and waits patiently for his turn.
He is fascinated by this creation of God which seems harmless and whose only aim is to quench its thirst and retreat. The poet’s inner voice asks him to kill it as it being golden brown in color, is considered to be poisonous.
The snake is unaware of the presence of the poet and in its natural way, quenches its thirst and withdraws into the hole in the wall.
When the snake is on its way into the hole, the poet is terrorized at the thought of the snake withdrawing into a world of darkness. He picks up a log of wood, hurls it at the snake.
He misses it but the snake senses danger and disappears into the hole in a haste.
The poet is still fascinated by the snake, but a sense of guilt grips him. He regrets his act of trying to hit the snake. He finds a similarity between this feeling of repentance to that of the ancient mariner who had killed the Albatross. He considers his actions to be wrongful, to hit his ‘guest’. He wishes that the snake comes back so that he can apologize and make amends for insulting the uncrowned king in exile in the underworld due to be crowned again.


Important Questions

Q. What did the narrator allow the snake to quench his thirst first?

A. The poet was a gentleman. He allowed the snake to quench his thirst first because the snake had come to the trough before him and moreover, he was a guest at the poet’s place. The poet thought that he should wait for his turn to come.

Q. What does the poet compare the snake’s drinking habits to? Why?

A. The poet compares the snake’s drinking habit to cattle. As the cattle lift their heads after drinking water in the same way the snake lifted his head after drinking some water from the trough. He waited for some time and again drank some more water.

Q. Why did the poet throw the log at the snake?

A. The poet liked the snake a lot but the voices of education in his head told him to kill the snake as the snake in Sicily are considered to be poisonous. The voices of education overpowered the voices of his conscience and he decided to kill it.

Q. What is the poet’s dual attitude towards the snake?

A. The poet was full of admiration for the snake. He found it to be a beautiful and majestic creature. He called it the ‘Lord of the Earth’. But at the same time, he was full of disgust as the voice of education had told him that the snake was a dangerous creature and should be killed.

Q. Why does the poet experience conflicting emotions for the snake?

A. The poet liked the snake a lot. He was full of appreciation for the creature. His heart was full of admiration for the majestic creature but his education had taught him that the snakes in Sicily were poisonous and they should be killed immediately when seen.

Q. What did the voice of education teach the poet?

A. The voices of education taught the poet to kill the snake, for golden brown snakes in Sicily were considered to be poisonous. The poet in an unmindful way did what the voices of education had told him to do. His rational mind and social belief ultimately overpowered his conscience.

Q. In the poem, ‘Snake’, why does the poet think of the albatross?

A. The poet in the poem ‘Snake’ threw a log of wood at the snake without any reason. He then repented his action and wished that he could see that ‘Lord’ of the earth once again. Similarly, in ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ the Mariner killed the albatross without any fault of its. the Mariner also repented his evil doings.

Q. Why did the poet have to wait near the water trough?

A. The snake was the first comer and the poet was the second one. So the poet thought that the snake had the first right to quench his thirst. Being the second comer, he was supposed to wait. Moreover, the poet was the host and the snake was the guest. So the poet thought that he must wait until his guest had quenched his thirst.

Q. Why did the poet feel that he had done a petty act?

A. The poet felt of two contrasting thoughts. Ultimately, the voice of his accursed human education prevailed and he threw a clumsy log on the snake without any provocation. So he had to repent for his action. Being a creature of God the snake had every right on the water which is a natural resource. The poet felt that his rational thought i.e., the voice of his education prevailed over his human instinct and made him do a pretty act of making an attempt to harm the innocent creature.

Q. What were the poet’s thoughts after the snake had gone?

A. The poet confessed that he had committed a heinous crime. He attempted to harm a creature of God without any unfriendly behavior. As the snake was his guest, he must have set an example of hospitality. He was repenting for what he had done. He compared himself to the Ancient Mariner who had killed an albatross without unfriendly behavior. He also said that the snake was one of the lords of life. He was like a king in exile due to be crowned again. Actually, the poet wanted to amend his pettiness.

Q. why did the narrator in the poem,’Snake’ considered himself a coward?

A. the poet was sure that the snake was venomous. His voice of human education was instigating him to kill the snake for saving the life of a human being. But his human instinct was not allowing him to do so. His selfish human motive misinterpreted his human instinct and told him that he was hesitant to kill the snake as he was afraid of him. Hence, he was a coward.

Q. Describe the poet’s feelings and actions as he watched the snake drinking from the trough.

A. In the beginning, the poet takes a keen interest in the activities of the snake. He regards the snake his guest and becomes ready to be his host. He waits for taking water from his water trough as he was the second comer. When he comes to know that the snake is poisonous, his voice of human education asks him to take a stick and finish him off. But the poet likes the snake and feels pride that his water trough has been selected by the snake. After that, a conflict begins in his mind. His human instinct asks him not to harm the snake whereas the selfish motive of his human education asked him to kill that poisonous snake as soon as possible for the sake of mankind. Ultimately, his evil notion prevails and throws a clumsy log at the snake. Then he begins to repent for his petty act. He wants to snake to come again as he was like a king in exile, who should be crowned. He has an extreme desire to amend his pettiness.

Q. How did the snake react when the poet tried to harm it?

A. Using his sixth sense, the snake realized the danger at once. Without losing a fraction of second, the snake made a violent movement with the part of his body which was outside the hole.

He twisted and turned like lightning and went inside the black hole without losing any moment. The poet went on staring at the earth-lipped fissure in the front wall.

As the snake was the creature made by God, he had the intuition that he must get inside his dark hole without losing even a fraction of a second.

Q. How has the snake been described by the poet, D.H. Lawrence?

A. The poet has given a unique description of the snake that he saw at his water trough. He says that the snake reached there from a crack in the earth’s darkness. He carried his yellow-brown loose soft-bellied body over the edge of the water trough.

He sipped the water with his straight mouth and through his straight gums silently into his long body. Like cattle, he lifted his head from drinking. He moved his two-forked tongue from his lips and thought for a moment and knelt down.

The poet further says that the snake was poisonous as he was a golden color. After drinking adequate water, the snake lifted his head like the one who had drunk. He seemed to lick his lips after drinking water. He looked around into the air.

The poet was greatly impressed to see all these activities. After throwing a clumsy log at the snake, the poet begins to regrate. Then he compares the snake to a king in exile. He also calls the snake one of the lords of life. So the poet’s description of the poet is indeed applaudable.

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