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Snake by D.H.Lawrence. A snake came to my water –trough On a hot , hot day , and I in pajamas for heat, To drink there. In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob –tree I came down the steps with my pitcher

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by D.H.Lawrence


A snake came to my water –trough

On a hot , hot day , and I in pajamas for 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 me

The poem starts by revealing the event, the time and the atmosphere .The snake in satisfying its urge for water, went to the poets “water – trough” on “ hot day”. Also, the poet who is the owner of the water through came for the same purpose in his pyjamas to avoid the “heat”. The poet is said to be coming from his “strange – scented shade” with a “pitcher” in his hand. On getting to his water – through, meeting the snake, he sees it as an obligation to “stand and wait” for the snake because it was there before it.


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 small clearness,

He sipped with his straight mouth , softly drank through his straight gums,

Into his slack long body ,silently.

Someone was before me at my water trough,

And I, like a second comer, waiting.

The snake reached down from a fissure: a narrow opening, cleft or crevice; a splitting apart or break; cleavage; to crack, split or cleave; in the earth wall in the gloom; a dark place: and trailed its yellow brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the store trough and it rested its throat upon the stone bottom. The water had dripped from the tap in a small clearness. The snake sipped with its clear mouth and softly drank through its straight gums into his slack long body, very silently.Someone was before the narrator at his water trough and he is waiting like a second comer.


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 earth

On the day of Sicilian July , with Etna smoking.

The snake lifted its head from its drinking and starred at the narrator very vaguely, in some manner as the cattle do. It flickered its two forked tongue from its lips and mused a moment, and stooped and drank a little more. Its appearance is earth brown, earth golden from the burning bowels of the earth on the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking: a very active volcano in Sicily, Italy.


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.

The voice of the narrator’s education said to him that the snake must be killed: for in Sicily, the black snakes are considered to be innocent while the golden colored are considered to be venomous .The inner voice instigated him by reminding him that if he were a man, he would take a stick and break it now to finish the snake off.


But must I confess how I liked him,

How glad I was he had come like a guest in quite , to drink at my water –trough

And depart peaceful ,pacified and thankless,

Into the burning bowels of this earth?

However, the narrator must confess how he liked the snake. He was glad that it had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at his water-trough. The snake then departed peacefully, pacified: peaceful and thankless, while he returned 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 honored?

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 would seek my hospitality

From out the dark door of secret earth.

The poet was confused ,Was it cowardice that the narrator dared not kill the snake? Was it perversity (illogical) that he longed to talk to it? Was it humility to feel so honoured? Yet the narrator felt so honoured. Those voices that spoke to him saying that if he was not afraid, he would kill it.


He drank enough and lifted his head, dreamingly ,as one who has drunken,

And flickered his tongue like a forked night on air , so black,

Seeming to 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.

The snake having considered been hospitalized, “drank enough an lifted its head” “and flickered his tongue”. After reaching the peak of its satisfaction, the snake turned around slowly with its long curved body towards the direction of its origin.


And as he put his 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.

As the snake put its head into that dreadful hole and as it slowly drew up, snake easing its shoulders and entered farther, a sort of horror and protest against its withdrawing into that horrid black hole. It deliberately entered into the blackness and slowly drew itself after, overcoming the narrator, now that its 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 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.

Suddenly, the poet looked around and put down his pitcher, “picked up a clumsy log and threw it at the water-trough”. This was done to kill the snake but it did not. The snake hearing the “clatter” hastily moved in its remaining body “into the black hole”


And I immediately regretted it.

I thought how paltry (worthless), 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 could come back , my snake.

At the disappearance of the snake, the poet regretted his action immediately and blamed himself for acting the way he did. He placed the blame on the voice of his education to have lured him into it and feared not to pay for his negative action like the sailor that killed “the albatross”. The poet after regretting wished the snake could come back for him


For he seemed to me again like a king

Like a king in exile, uncrowned in 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.

The poet after regretting wished the snake could come back for him to crown it like a king but believed it would never do so and sees it “like a king in exile”. The poet concluded by feeling that he has to make an amendment.



  • “hot” On a hot , hot day , and I in pajamas for heat,
  • “must” And must wait, must stand and wait ,
  • “afraid” And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, but
  • “slowly” And slowly ,very slowly, as if thrice adream
  • 5. “like a king”like a king, like a king in exile


“burning bowels”

“peaceful pacify”

“dark door ”


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