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Snake Summary Class 10th English

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 Poet’s Water-Trough A snake visited the poet’s 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 poet’s 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 perversity.
  • 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 water-trough.

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  •  Poet’s 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 didn’t 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 Coleridge’s 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.

Word Meanings from the Poem

  • Carob-tree – a red flowered tree originally in the Mediterranean area.
  • Pitcher – tall, round container with an open top and large handle.
  • Fissure – crack
  • Flickered – moved
  • Mused – think about
  • Fascination – interest
  • Paltry – worthless
  • Expiate – make amends.
  • Bowels – bottom of the earth.
  • Pacified – relaxed
  • Cowardice – lack of bravery
  • Perversity – illogical
  • Hospitality – welcome
  • Horrid – rough
  • Convulsed – violent movement.
  • Albatross – an allusion to Coleridge’s “Rime of the ancient mariner” .He wishes for its return.
  • Exile – banishment
  • Haste – hurry
  • Writhed – to twist and turn
  • Fissure – crack


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