Snake by D.H. Lawrence

2 May

BC-Snake-Drinking-Water[1]

One thing that really bothers me about people and even me is how we are so willing to believe something that has been taught to us even though it may be totally wrong.

In D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Snake” we see a snake that has come to drink out of a water-trough and Lawrence talks about how he stares at the snake, almost transfixed by it. While the snake is drinking he describes what he sees and the more that Lawrence stares at the snake he starts to think about what he has been taught about snakes and how to deal with them. Eventually what Lawrence has been taught about snakes overtakes his common sense and as the snake is leaving, he throws a log at the snake. After he threw the log at the snake he felt remorse for what he had done and he realized that what he had been taught about snakes might have been a little wrong.

What I’ve always thought about snakes is that if I don’t bother them, hopefully, they won’t bother me, and I believe that whether they are poisonous or not. Unfortunately, in this poem, the side of educations won out over the common sense.

“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.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

But I must confess how I liked him,

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

And depart peaceful, pacified, and  thankless

Into the burning bowels of this earth?”

 

Just because something is different or supposedly bad does not mean that is truly is. The way the snake is described in this poem it lends the snake an almost majestic and dignified air. Why would a creature that some see as mysterious and majestic be hated so by others? Just because we are taught that we shouldn’t like them doesn’t mean that we should. For example, after he throws the stick at the snake he immediately feels remorse.

“And Immediatley I regretted it.

I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!

I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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.

 

I believe that the moral of this poem is that we shouldn’t always be so quick to judge and just because you have been taught that something should be bad doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.  

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