Snake Line by Line Meaning by D.H.Lawrance

Born in a small mining town in England on 11th September 1885, D.H. Lawrence is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Lawrence published many novels and poetry volumes in his lifetime, including Sons and Lovers and Women in Love, but is best known for his infamous novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The graphic and highly sexual novel was published in Italy in 1928, but was banned in the United States until 1959 and in England until 1960. Lawrence died in France on 2nd March 1930.

Reviled as a crude and pornographic writer for much of the latter part of his life, D.H. Lawrence is now widely considered as one of the great modernist English-language writers along with Joyce and Woolf. His linguistic precision, mastery of a wide range of subject matters and genres, psychological complexity and exploration of female sexuality distinguish him as one of the most refined and revolutionary English writers of his time. Lawrence himself considered his writings to be an attempt to challenge and expose what he saw as the constrictive and oppressive cultural norms of modern Western culture.

This poem was probably written by Lawrence in 1920 in Sicily. It was published in 1923 as part of his collection of poetry entitled Birds, Beasts, and Flowers.

Please note: N= noun, V=verb, Adj=Adjective, Adv=Adverb, P=Preposition

1st stanza:

Trough (N): A long, narrow open container for animals to eat or drink out of

Pyjamas (N): A loose-fitting jacket and trousers for sleeping in

2nd stanza:

Carob (N): A small evergreen Arabian tree which bears long brownish-purple edible pods

Pitcher (N): A large jug

3rd stanza:

Fissure (N): A long, narrow opening or line of breakage made by cracking or splitting, especially in rock or earth

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Earth (N): The substance of the land surface; soil

Gloom (N): Partial or total darkness

Trailed (V): Past tense of the word “trail”, that is, to walk or move slowly or wearily

Slackness (N): Not tense or taut

Dripped (V): Past tense of the word “drip”, that is, (of liquid) to fall in small drops

Sipped (V): Past tense of the word “sip”, that is, to drink (something) by taking small mouthfuls

Gums (N): Plural form of the word “gum”, that is, the firm area of flesh around the roots of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw

5th stanza:

Cattle (N): Large ruminant animals with horns and cloven hoofs, domesticated for meat or milk, or as beasts of burden; cows and oxen

Vaguely (Adv): In a way that is uncertain, indefinite or unclear; roughly

Flickered (V): Past tense of the word “flicker”, that is, to make small, quick movements

Two-forked (Adj): Split into two distinct tines

Mused (V): Past tense of the word “muse”, that is, to be absorbed in thought

Stooped (V): Past tense of the word “stoop”, that is, to bend one’s head or body forwards and downwards

Bowels (N): Plural form of the word “bowel”, that is, the deepest inner parts or areas of (something)

Sicilian (Adj): Of or relating to Sicily or its people, language, or culture

Etna (N): Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily

6th stanza:

Venomous (Adj): (Of an animal, especially a snake) secreting venom; capable of injecting venom by means of a bite or sting

8th stanza:

Confess (V): Acknowledge something reluctantly, typically because one feels slightly ashamed or embarrassed

Depart (V): Leave, especially in order to start a journey

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Pacified (V): Past participle form of the word “pacify”, that is, to quell the anger, agitation, or excitement of

9th stanza:

Cowardice (N): Lack of bravery

Perversity (N): A deliberate desire to behave in an unreasonable or unacceptable way; contrariness


Humility (N): The quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance

Honoured (V): Past participle form of the word “honour”, that is, to regard with great respect

11th stanza:

Seek (V): Attempt to find (something)

Hospitality (N): The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

12th stanza:

Bank (N): A long, high mass or mound of a particular substance

13th stanza:

Dreadful (Adj): Causing or involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness; extremely bad or serious

Protest (N): A statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something

Withdrawing (V): Present participle form of the word “withdraw”, that is, to leave or cause to leave a place or situation

Horrid (Adj): Causing horror

Deliberately (Adv): consciously and intentionally; on purpose

Overcoming (V): Present participle form of the word “overcome”, that is, (of a feeling or emotion) to overpower or overwhelm

14th stanza:

Clumsy (Adj): Difficult to handle or use; unwieldy

Log (N): A part of the trunk or a large branch of a tree that has fallen or been cut off

Clatter (N): a continuous rattling sound as of hard objects falling or striking each other

15th stanza:

Convulsed (V): Past tense of the word “convulse”, that is, suffer violent involuntary contraction of the muscles, producing contortion of the body or limbs

Undignified (Adj): Appearing foolish and unseemly; lacking in dignity

Haste (N): Excessive speed or urgency of movement or action; hurry

Writhed (V): Past tense of the word “writhe”, that is, make twisting, squirming movements or contortions of the body

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Intense (Adj): Of extreme force, degree, or strength

Fascination (N): Strong attention and interest

16th stanza:

Regretted (V): Past tense of the word “regret”, that is, to feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do)

Paltry (Adj): Petty; trivial

Vulgar (Adj): Lacking sophistication or good taste

Mean (Adj): Unkind, spiteful, or unfair

Despised (V): Past tense of the word “despise”, that is, feel contempt or a deep repugnance for

Accursed (Adj): Used to express strong dislike of or anger at someone or something

17th stanza:

Albatross (N): A very large, chiefly white oceanic bird with long, narrow wings, found mainly in the southern oceans

18th stanza:

Exile (N): The state of being barred from one’s native country, typically for political or punitive reasons

Underworld (N): The mythical abode of the dead, imagined as being under the earth

Due (Adj): Expected at or planned for at a certain time

19th stanza:

Expiate (V): Make amends or reparation for (guilt or wrongdoing)

Pettiness (N): A behaviour that is narrow-minded or ungenerous

Detailed Analysis: We have considered your feedback and did a detailed analysis of quite a few poems at Beamingnotes. Luckily, the poem you’re reading now, Snake does have a detailed analysis. This will let you understand the poem in great depth and help you score good! Here are the following links- For annotations: Meaning and annotations of the poem Snake ; For complete line by line Summary: Summary of the Snake; For detailed critical analysis: Critical Analysis of Snake  and for suggested solved questions:  Solved Question and Answers from Snake.