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Introduction

The poem Green Snake is originally written by BR Lakshman Rao and translated into English by AK Ramanujan. In this poem, the poet describes an incident when the poet happens to see a green snake near his house. His parents kills it at once though the poet told them that the snake is harmless.

The poem describes the cruel behaviour of human beings towards the snakes because of popular notion that all the snakes are poisonous and thus dangerous for us. The poem is written in a single long stanza. However to make it easy to understand, I have divided it into three parts.

Poem

Part 1

Early morning, the day before yesterday,
under a slab of stone,
in a crack,
eyes glittering,
forked tongue licking and flashing,
a frog swelling his belly,
he lay there quietly:
a baby snake, two hands long,
a green snake.

The poet says that one early morning, two days back, a snake was lying quietly under a large stone in a crack, after swallowing a frog which had made its (snake’s) belly look swelled.

According to the poet, its eyes were glittering (shining) and its fork-like tongue was licking and flashing i.e. moving out of its mouth. It was a baby snake, green in colour and of the length of two hands.

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Part 2

“Poor thing. It’s a green snake. Still a baby.
What harm can it do?" I said.
My father replied,
“A snake’s a snake."
And mother,
“That’s where everyone walks.
We don’t need trouble. Kill it."
“I can’t," I said.

The poet feels pity for the snake and tells his father that its just a helpless thing, green in colour (not poisonous) and still a baby. It will not do any harm to them. Hence they should not kill it.

Hearing the poet, his father replies that a snake is a snake and hence dangerous. The mother adds that it (the snake) is laying on the path which is used by everyone for walking. Hence they do not need any trouble and asks the poet to kill it.

The poet is still feeling pity for the baby snake and tells his parents that he cannot kill it.

Part 3

Father struck him with a piece of firewood,
chased him outside,
and killed him flat.

When the poet refuses to kill the snake, his father takes a piece of firewood (i.e. the stick which is used for fire), strikes it, chases the snake to outside and finally kills it.

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