Snake by D.H. Lawrence


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The poem snake is a beautiful, haunting description of an encounter between man and nature. Lawrence deals amazingly with the conflict of whether to choose between his education and kill the snake or his moral instinct telling him that the snake is a friend, not a foe. we have made this presentation to make others aware of this awesome poem, and we hope you learn a lot from this presentation. we have included, in the ppt, the analysis of the poem, a critical review, the battle between moral and educational reason, about the poet and his works etc too so that it will be easier for us to get a better grasp of Lawrence's feelings and thoughts.

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Snake by D.H. Lawrence

  1. 1. SNAKE By David Herber Lawrence
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION The poem “The Snake” is a notable poem by D. H. Lawrence that provides us a glimpse into the complexities of human nature that bring us towards rational thinking. This poem tells us the tale of a person going to a water-trough ,who stumbles upon a snake. The person is fascinated and feels honoured that he was able to see this magnificent sight. Yet his upbringing and education tells that the snake ought to be killed,
  3. 3. ANALYSIS In the poem, Lawrence recalls the time when he had been living in Sicily during an extremely hot summer. Feeling thirsty, the poet had come to the water trough, only to find that he was not the first visitor there, as the lines, “ And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.”, indicate. There was a regal golden-brown snake, drinking leisurely
  4. 4. We then realize from the lines, “ looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do” and “ mused a moment”, that the snake has seen the poet standing there and does not consider him to be a threat. The day is very hot and the volcano is smoking as it is the middle of July, so perhaps the snake too feels lazy and simply wishes to quench his thirst. Lawrence recalls that he had been taught that in Sicily, “ the black, black snakes are innocent and the gold are venomous.”The accursed voices within him told him that he had to act „manly‟ and should kill
  5. 5. Then, in the poet‟s mind, there starts a battle between his morality and his social conditioning. On one hand, his education tells him to kill the snake, as we can see by the virtue of the lines, “If you were a man, you would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.” and “ If you were not afraid, you would kill him”. The narrator confesses that he was afraid, but honoured even more and felt that he would somehow
  6. 6. But then as the snake begins to draw back into its home, “ a sort of horror, a sort of protest” forms in the poet‟s mind and he lets himself be guided by his instinct. Now that Lawrence could no longer see the snake‟s peaceful and docile face, the urge to do something overcomes him and he picks up a “ clumsy log and throws it at the water trough with a clatter”. Though the stick does not hit the snake, but being alarmed, it “ convulses in undignified haste.” and swiftly slithers into the security of
  7. 7. Now, the poet makes an allusion to S. T. Coleridge‟s „ Rime of the Ancient Mariner‟ by referring to the snake as his own personal albatross. In the same way that the mariner had acted on impulse and killed the albatross, resulting in the terrible way in which the sailors had to suffer, D. H. Lawrence too had driven away the snake. He wishes that “he would come back, my snake.”, so that the poet could atone for his evil act and regain the snake‟s trust. The snake had seemed to him like a king and he had, in an act of foolish desperation, driven it away and
  8. 8. CRITICAL APPRECIATION The poem “Snake” by D. H. Lawrence is a fascinating text written in free verse that deals with the complexities of the human mind and the ways in which man faces with them. The poet builds the poem in Sicily, Italy and conveys the soaring temperature through the words“Etna smoking” and “burning bowels of the earth”. Lawrence‟s raw language and creativity with the imageries is remarkable, adorned by the persona‟s allusions and dilemmas
  9. 9. “He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do, And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do”. It is then that the poet‟s accursed human education steps in and makes him question his present dealings and urges him to finish off the “fatal” snake. But just as easily, we find him again slipping off to the world where the snake is just another harmless, magnificent creation of god. The persona becomes the medium of the portrayal of a battle of the mind and the heart, that of the Adam created
  10. 10. vices, the persona hits it with a stick and momentarily and we find the new age victorious. But immediate guilt and self-loathing for the cavalier act ensue and he falls to his knees begging the snake to return so to redeem “the uncrowned king”. Abashed by his deeds, he despises himself for giving in to the worse half.
  11. 11. THEME/MESSAGE In the poem, 'Snake„, D.H. Lawrence shows that instinct is superior to the reasoning of mind. He was strangely attracted by the dignified and quiet way of the snake and accepted it as an esteemed and respected guest. Lawrence was essentially a moralist who believed that the modern man was gradually becoming devoid of his natural feelings. It points out the poet‟s fascination towards the snake, since it was not blinded by prejudice like man, but instead was guided by instinct. The poem brings out several different layers of
  12. 12. thinking. The poem arouses the feeling of love and sympathy for all creatures in the world. It was the accursed human education that urged the poet to kill the snake to satisfy his social needs. He has no right to deprive others from their right to live. Although the poet hits the snake, he feels sorry for his act. So we see that man's natural instinct prevail at the end. He equates his education with the forces of ignorance, cruelty and vulgarity.. The poet seeks religious atonement for his pettiness in hurting the snake who had not harmed him in anyway, thus concluding that one must follow his
  13. 13. EDUCATIONAL FACTS V/S MORAL INSTINCT The poem "Snake" by D.H. Lawrence is an interesting text that deals with the complexities of human nature that brings towards our rational thinking. In his poem "Snake," DH Lawrence examines the conflict between education, or accepted attitudes, and the desires the people often hold. The poem develops around the speaker's unexpected meeting with a snake. Fear and fascination take control as he is left with the internal struggle between rational and his natural feelings. It highlights the difference between our
  14. 14. But the symbolism of the snake cannot be ignored and suggests that Lawrence may have been exploring something other than simply this snake On the positive, we learn that the person has a conscience. Even after the person tried to attack the snake "I picked up a clumsy log and threw it at the watertrough" We learn the person regrets this action. For at the closing of the poem the person regrets this petty act, is ashamed with what the person has done. "How paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!" We know that the person's natural instinct, the
  15. 15. The poem contains a battle between awhat education has told us to do and what our moral instinct prompts us to do. The poem comes to the conclusion that what we have always unquestioningly followed, fed to us by our tutors and textbooks may not be the best route to take. One must also believe in his or her own moral and natural instinct which most often does not lead us astray However, some may disagree with the poet‟s views, which is ordinary since everybody cannot see the world through the poet‟s eyes. They may argue that what the textbooks have told us has been seen from experiments and facts, and perhaps our morality may cause us harm.
  16. 16. FIGURES OF SPEECH  PERSONIFICATION- The entire poem is a personification, with Lawrence referring to the snake as „He‟ and not „It‟. The personification creates an effect of the snake being not an animal but instead a human being, perceived as a friend and not a natural enemy. Some examples being“For there he was, at the trough
  17. 17.  ALLITERATION- The alliteration used in the poem creates a beautiful, haunting imagery that adds to the flow and melody of Lawrence‟s poem. “Strange scented shade of great dark carob tree” “Into the burning bowels of this earth” “Dark door of the secret earth”  REPITITIONSIn the poem “The Snake”, the use of repetition has shaped a lingering picture of actions and feelings that one has often felt in his musings. Repetitions also emphasize the word to remind us of its
  18. 18. SIMILED.H.Lawrence has used in his poem, some vivid and artistic examples of similes to describe the scene of the encounter of man and nature. “Like a second comer” “He lifted his head from his drinking as cattle do” “Looked around like a god” “For he seemed to me like a king” “Like a king in exile”  IMAGERYThe use of imagery helps the readers to better understand the poet‟s state of mind and the scene in which the poem is set. “Etna smoking” “Burning bowels” 
  19. 19.  METAPHOR- The use of metaphors has provided us with a subtle description that one has to dig deep in to find the connection. However, metaphors in Lawrence‟s poem have enhanced the surreal quality of this scene. “And I thought of the albatross And I wished he would come back, my snake.” “ I missed my chance with one of the lords Of life.”
  20. 20. ABOUT THE POET David Herbert Lawrence‟s writing is notable for its intensity and its sensuality. All of Lawrence‟s works are written in a lyrical, sensuous, often rhapsodic prose style. He had an extraordinary ability to convey a sense of specific time and place, and his writings often reflected his complex personality. He believed in writing poetry that was stark, immediate and true to the mysterious inner force which motivated it. Many of his best-loved poems treat the physical and inner life of plants and animals; others are bitterly satiric and express his
  21. 21. D.H. LAWRENCE’S WORKS IN POETRY Poetry Amores (1916) Bay (1919) Birds, Beasts and Flowers (1923) Complete Poems (1957) Fire and Other Poems (1940) Last Poems (1932) Look! We Have Come Through (1917) Love Poems and Others (1913) Nettles (1930) Pansies (1929) Poems (1939) The Ship of Death (1933) Tortoises (1921)
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