Snake by D.H. Lawrence

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1 Snake by D.H. Lawrence A snake c a me to my water trough On a hot, hot day, and I in pajamas for the 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. 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 a 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. 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 the earth On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking. 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. He drank enough And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken, And f li c kered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so bla c k, Seeming to lick his lips, And lo o ked around like a god, unseeing, into the air, And slowly turned his head, And slowly, very slowly,as If thrice a dream, Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round And climb again the broken bank of my wall face. And as he put his head into that dreadful hole, And as he s lowly 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 him se lf after, Overcame me now his back was turned. I looked round, I put down my pitcher, I picked up a clumsy log And threw it at the water t rough with a clatter. I think it did not hit him, But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.

2 Writhed like lightning, and was gone Into t he black hole, the earth lipped fissure in the wall front, At which, In the Intense still noon, I stared with fascination. And Immediately I regretted it. I thought how paltry,how vulgar, what a mean act I I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education. And I thought of the albatross And I wished he would come back, my snake. For he seemed to me again like a king, Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the 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 pe tt ine ss. 1. Where does the narrator encounter the snake? a) at the water trough b) in the carob tree C) in a black hole d) on the steps 2. How does the narrator feel after his action towards the snake? a) The narrator feels triumphant. b) The narrator feels exhaus ted. c) The narrator feels repulsion. d) The narrator feels regret. 3. Why does the narrator dare not kill the snake? a) He thought his neighbor would be angry. b) He was honored by the snake's presence. c) He w anted to talk to the snake. d) H e wa s indifferent to the sna ke 's presence 4. What does the snake seem like to the narrator? a. like an albatross b. like a clumsy log c. like a king in exile d. like a devil 5. Why does the narrator allow the snake to drink? a. The narrator feels sorry for the snake. b. The narrator thinks the snake is cute.

3 c. The snake was there first. 6. Why is the narrator wearing pajamas? a. because he is getting ready for bed. b. because the day is hot. c. because it is the middle of the night d. because he is ill. 7. What characteristic of the snake is most emphasized in the narrator s initial description? a. his piercing eyes b. his smooth body c. his straightness d. his tongue 8. In what country is the narrator? a. England b. France c. Germany D. Italy 9. What color is the snake? a. black b. yellow brown c. orange d. green 10. What does the narrator do to the snake? a. throws a log at the snake b. throws the water pitcher at the snake c. yells at the snake d. kicks the snake S h ort A nswer Questions 11. What makes the narrator think that he is "not a man"?

4 12. What do you believe the narrator fears most? Give details from the poem to support your answer. 13. Does the narrator have a conscie n ce? Cite details from the poem to support your posit i on. 14. Describe the attitude of the snake that makes the narrator eventually react to the snake. 15. Describe how the narrator views the snake from his initial encounter with the snake to his final action towards the snake.

5 16. Discuss how the narrator identifies with the snake. 17. Explain what the narrator means by "human education." 18. What about the narrator's final action towards the snake Indicates cowardice? Cite a specific line from the poem. Poetic Techniques Short Answer Questions 19. What images In the poem suggest that the snake is a symbol of evil? 20. Explain the allusion the narrator makes to the albatross.

6 21. Find an example of personification in the poem. 22. Find an example of alliteration in the poem. 23. Cite an example of repetition in the poem and explain how that repetition contributes to the poem. 24. Find an example of a simile in the poem. Explain the comparison that is being made.

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