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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gardening and Garter Snakes

It was a lovely warm day yesterday. Temperature: 17C by the afternoon. I worked in the garden and visited the garter snakes. This fellow was by himself the first time, but when I checked again later, there were two snakes sunning themselves on the birch tree that leans out over the hill. This morning it is 8C and raining.


D. H. Lawrence wrote a wonderful poem about a snake when he was living in Taormina, Sicily. It is full of emotion as he describes meeting the snake on a hot July day when he goes out for some water "and must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me". He goes on to tell how the snake "rested his throat upon the stone bottom, And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, He sipped with his straight mouth, Softly drank....Silently". The poet feels he should have killed the snake because he was the venomous kind, but he admits to actually liking 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". There are so many beautiful lines in this poem, and it is worth reading and thinking over. The poem can be read in its entirety at the Representative Poetry Online Library (University of Toronto)


Snake by Herbert David Lawrence (1885-1930)
(Birds, Beasts and Flowers: Poems 1923)