Read the following extracts and answer the question that follow.
1. To drink there
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great carob-tree
(a) Name the poet and the person.
Ans : The poet is D.H. Lawrence and the poem is the Snake.
(b) Who has come to drink and what has he come for?
Ans : The poet has come to collect water in the pitcher and the snake has come for drinking water.
(c) Describe the surroundings of the watertrough?
Ans : The water-trough is in the open, under the shade of the sweet-scented carob tree.
2. He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom And trailed his yellow-brown slackness softbellied down, over the edge of the stone-trough
(a) From where had the snake appeared?
Ans : The snake had come from the inside portion of the earth-wall
(b) Identify the poetic device in ‘slackness, softbellied’.
Ans : Alliteration
(c) Describe the path the snake took to reach the water.
Ans : The snake came out from the crack in the wall and came trailing on the ground to reach the edge of the water trough.
3. and mused a moment
And stooped and drank a little more
(a) Explain ‘mused a moment?
Ans : It means ‘it appeared to be thinking for sometime’.
(b) What does the manner of the snake suggest?
Ans : The snake appears very relaxed and ‘unhurried and takes his time to drink water.
(c) Why is the poet watching every action of the snake?
Ans : The snake has fascinated the poet with his majestic behaviour.
4. And voices in me said, if you were a man You would take a stick and break him now and finish him off
(a) What are ‘voices’?
Ans : The voices refer to the beliefs that are ingrained in one’s mind due to society.
(b) What do the voices suggest? Why?
Ans : They suggest that the snake should be killed as he is poisonous.
(c) Do you think it would be cowardice or manly for the poet to kill the snake? Why/Why not?
Ans : It was cowardice because the snake had not harmed the poet — to strike the snake behind its back is not ethical.
5. And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords of life
And I have something to expiate
(a) Why is the poet’s action called ‘a pettiness’?
Ans : It was a mean act to hit the snake behind his back.
(b) What is there for the poet to ‘expiate’?
Ans : The poet wishes to compensate for his mean act.
(c) Why is the snake called the lord of life?
Which poetic device is used here?
Ans : It is used as a metaphor for the reason is not given.
6. But I must confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest,
To drink at the water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?
(a) Who had come as a guest?
Ans : A snake had come as a guest to the poet's water trough to quench his thirst.
(b) How do we know that the guest's thirst was quenched?
Ans : The way the snake raised his head dreamily after drinking water and slowly moved away from the water trough shows that his thirst was quenched.
(c) Where would it go?
Ans : After taking water, the snake climbed the wall with the crack and entered deep inside the hole.
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
1. Why does the poet repeat “hot”, “must wait” twice? What purpose does it serve?
Ans : These words are used repeatedly because the poet wishes to emphasise on them. ‘Hot’ means very hot as there are many reasons like the month of July, Etna volcano etc. ‘Must wait’ means compulsion. The poet believes that anyone who comes first, must be served first.
2. From where had the snake emerged? What do you think was the reason for the snake to come out in the open?
Ans : The snake had come out from the crack in the wall. It was very hot and scorching inside due to July month, active volcano etc. The snake wanted to drink water and satisfy his thirst.
3. Describe the relaxed manner in which the snake makes his way to the water trough and the manner in which he drinks water.
Ans : The movement of the snake is described as ‘slack’ ‘soft-bellied’, most relaxed and unhurried. He appeared out of a crack in the wall and very languorously stretched himself and slow crawled to the edge of the water-trough. One reason could be that he had not seen the poet.
4. Why is the snake compared to cattle?
Ans : The relaxed manner in which the snake drinks water reminds the poet of cattle. Even the cattle drink water, then look up, muse a moment and continue. The snake also behaves similarly.
5. How were the poet’s beliefs regarding snakes conditioned by society? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans : Society ingrains certain preconceived notions in our mind and due to that we don’t judge situations by instinct — The poet was fascinated by the snake. He appreciated the snake’s majestic and harmless nature but the earlier instincts drilled in him by society force him to strike at the snake. He had been taught to kill snakes.
6. Explain – ‘And depart peaceful, pacified and thankless’.
Ans : The snake appeared to be pacified and satisfied, for he had taken water generously. He was not the harmless kind, neither had the poet given him any reason, so there was no confrontation. The poet believes that the snake has no reason to thank the poet for a natural resource like water which is God’s gift for all.
7. Why does the poet feel honoured by the presence of the snake?
Ans : The poet feels obliged that the snake had come all the way from the inner depths of the earth to his water trough and this was a kind of honour. Moreover, the snake
is so regal and majestic in his bearing that the poet feels honoured to have him as his guest.
8. The poet is too impressed with the majestic manner in which the snake conducts himself. What comparisons does the poet make to highlight this behaviour of the snake?
Ans : The manner in which the snake drinks water is like the cattle. He appears to muse a bit, drink with intervals. The snake is called ‘lord of life’ because life and death is in his hands. He is also compared to ‘a king’ for his majestic style and when he quickly disappears he is compared to lightening.
9. Why did the poet have a sudden urge to hit the snake? Do you think he was justified in trying to hit the snake, when its back was turned? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans : When the snake’s back is turned, the ‘voices of education’ that were troubling the poet, overtake him. He hits the snake with a stick which was quite unjustified. The snake had not troubled the poet and one must behave with one’s instincts than preconceived notions.
10. Why did the poet despise himself? Mention the three words that he uses to describe his action.
Ans : The poet feels very guilty of trying to hit at the snake. He calls his act ‘mean’ ‘petty’ and feels like making amends. The poet believes that he must compensate for his
unreasonable and undignified act. He uses the words ‘to expiate’, which express his feelings.