Snake By Lawrence

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Snake By Lawrence Essay, Research Paper

?Snake? is one of Lawrence?s most famous poems. Although the poem seems to

be about an encounter with a snake, the true theme of the poem is the conflict

between emotional behavior and learned behavior. This conflict is displayed

through setting and symbolism. The poem begins with a very narrative voice and

is a pleasure to read for that reason. Lawrence is exuberated in expressing his

reverence for nature. In the first three stanzas of the poem the setting is

established and the movement of the snake is described. The poem took place in a

garden near his house because the boy was in pajamas and under the shade of ?a

great dark carob-tree.? The movement of the snake is described by the

alliteration of the s sound in the words straight, softly, slack, and silently.

Symbolism is used throughout the poem. The garden in which the poem takes place

can be a symbol of the Garden of Eden, and the snake, a symbol of the devil. A

snake is a symbol of evil, but a snake is also a symbol of enlightenment and

wisdom according to ancient civilizations. The snake, however, is the ultimate

symbol of tension. The tension in the young boy is caused because he has to make

a decision. When he encounters the snake, he is posed with the question to kill

the snake or to let it leave unharmed, to act upon his human education or his

instinct. While the snake is drinking at the trough, the boy?s emotions are in

conflict. Even though the boy was scared, he was even more honored that the

snake should seek his hospitality. Once the snake started to leave, the boy?s

time was running out. He had to make a decision. Because of his ?accursed

human education,? he decided to act in an evil way and throw a log at the

snake. Does this suggest that the snake is not evil, but the soul in man is

inherently evil? Or is the snake evil because he was retreating into the evil

darkness of hell symbolized by the hole in the fissure? Once the boy threw the

log at the snake, he immediately regretted it, revealing ?I thought how

paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act?I wish he would come back, my snake.?

After the boy threw the log, he recognized the innocence of the snake noting,

?And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords/ Of life.? This

illustrates man always trying to rob the dignity from all Godly creatures, and

how petty it is. Through this poem, Lawrence has illustrated his point about

strife and the clash of opposites. The symbols used in this poem are very

ambiguous because they can be interpreted many ways. The snake can be a symbol

of evil, enlightenment and wisdom, or tension. The boy battles through many

emotions in this poem, finally coming to the realization that men are inherently


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