• Title? ‘Snake’: Connotations?



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  • 1st stanza: Snake’s precedence in poem, both chronologically in the representation-work of the poem AND in status (the man in ‘pyjamas’ vs the regal snake)







  • 2nd stanza: 2 points:

narrator (human) waits in line versus outer nature

notes of depth and darkness/mystery of nature






  • 3rd stanza: Note regal descriptions of snake

   Snake’s ‘straightness’ paradoxically emphasized, despite its physical nature/movement, and the notes of mystery already indicated above.

‘Silently’, unlike the man narrating in words: the man, strangely, fallen into knowledge and attempts at understanding, having, as it were, eaten from the tree of knowledge (as per title-connotations?)





  • 4th stanza: snake (as already suggested, implicitly, perhaps paradoxically) is called now ‘Someone’… and the human by contrast, is ‘a second comer’ and is ‘waiting’ (in line we assume)







  • 5th stanza: regal/noble/aristocratic description of snake continued and maintained;

Particularly by its described obliviousness/absent-mindedness

And also, as suggested, because it is at-one with nature









  • 6th and 7th stanzas: versus nature or what’s (colloquially) ‘natural’ we now have the ‘voice of education’, indicating ‘civilization’ and thus ‘repression of instincts’, as a murderer (vs: nature’s more natural killing?)








8        8thstanza: the earlier-noted silence of the snake is now complemented by the man’s observation of it as quiet and peaceful and unobtrusive, because at-one with the depths of nature / the mystery of nature (‘bowels of the earth’);

          Also note how the man’s self-questioning, or rhetorical self-questioning is in mode indicative of the opposite of the snake’s needless self-satisfaction








  • 9th stanza: man continues to question himself; but he also answers himself as well, realizing what was implicit from the start, the superiority of nature and instinct to education and civilized repression of the natural/sensual, etc…








  • 10th stanza: and even with his fear of nature and the instinctual life, the man still feels ‘honored’ by it.






  • 11th stanza: describes snake as oblivious and ‘like a god’ (paradoxically?), and ‘unseeing’ (telling choice of description) going ‘back’ to the earth VS human narrator’s continuous self-questioning and self-doubting.







  • narrator’s ‘horror’ at the disappearance of this emblem of the natural world, leading to or emergent from the fear of the unknown, which fear, or repression, leads to violence or what Freudians call ‘the return of the repressed.’






  • the narrator makes a failed, pathetic attack, and yet, is ‘fascinated’ (which combines fear and awe) by the snake, leaving (who is surprised by the attack, suggesting his aristocratic unruffled state of mind)






  • The narrator now expresses ‘regret’ at his attack, as a hasty act. This I the paradox of this poem symbolizing man and civilization opposed to nature: his attack was indeed ‘instinctual’ and in the most pejorative sense, whereas the truer creature at-one with instinct is the creature portrayed with the most dignity and nobility, etc…








15      finally, the snake is likened to ‘a king’ and ‘a king in exile’, which latter phrase is a comment on the modern early 20th century world.  The snake now gone is seen as ‘one of the lords of life’, and the poem finishes with the narrator’s wish to expiate his ‘pettiness’.




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