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Critical Appreciation on "Snake" by D.H. Lawrence

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. This poem tells us a tale of a person going to a water-trough and stumbles upon a snake. The person is fascinated and honoured, "Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him?" Yet his upbringing tells the snake ought to be killed, "The voice of my education said to me He must be killed" This poem deals with the struggle within oneself, whether or not to follow our own natural instinct or our nurtural upbringing. There are many parameters regarding this poem that brings out the positive and negative aspects.

On the positive, we learn that the persona has a conscience. Even after the persona tried to attack the snake "I picked up a clumsy log and threw it at the water-trough" We learn the persona regrets this action. For at the closing of the poem the persona regrets this petty act, is ashamed with what the persona has done. "How paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!" We know that the persona's natural instinct, the fascination and honour felt towards the snake prevails over the educational upbringing. "I despised myself and the voices of my education." We realise how much the persona longs for the snake eventhough previously the persona lets his nurtural upbringing prevail momentarily. "I wished he would come back, my snake"

Another parameter in this poem that draws the reader in is its use of rich, simple descriptive language. The verses are loose and flow freely, "trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down" The reader also gets vivid pictoral words such as, "the water had dripped from the tap" The author is very descriptive in emphasizing the snake's actions, "rested his throat upon the stone bottom", "flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips." The poem also brings vivid colours to the reader's mind with words like, "yellow-brown slackness", "earth brown, earth golden from the burning bowels of the earth", "horrid black hole."

However, one must realise that from a negative side, there is a gap in this poem. The snake's point of view isnt potrayed. The reader only comprehends what emotions the persona goes through but not how the snake feels. The snake is represented very much so literally. "He lifted his head from his drinking", "flickered his tongue" Throughout the whole poem the snake isnt represented figuratively. The reader doesnt know if the snake feels honoured the way the persona is or whether or not its nonchalant about the persona at the water-trough.

Overal, this poem is an interesting read with its theme being a person's struggle with one's natural instict or rational thinking. The use of rich language and its easy flow of verses make this an enjoyable read. The only thing missing is that the snake was given no voice thoughout the whole poem.

Arththi Sathananthar25/7/09

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