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He glides through the water away
from the stroke. O let him go
over the water
into the reeds to hide
without hurt. Small and green
he is harmless even to children.
Along the sand
he lay until observed
and chased away, and now
he vanishes in the ripples
among the green slim reeds.
The snake is near a water body and this contains enough evidence that it is not the snake who has intruded into the human space, rather it was the humans. He glides his graceful body through the water, probably a river, swamp or a lake, as he mentions that that it has reeds. Reeds are types of long grasses that grow near water areas. The snake moves away from the strokes of the water, to avoid getting caught in the swift force of the moving water. The snake is cautious and a fighter that he tries to escape all the hurdles thrown at him. The snake is driven away from his own habitat by the humans. The poet expresses and nearly requests the attackers to let go of the snake. He appeals " O let him go" in a desperate attempt to educate them that if they let it go, it will escape and not cause any harm to them. He wants the snake to take solace among the reeds of the water and hide from his attackers. He does not want the snake to get hurt, and hopes that the reeds, which is another part of nature, gives shelter to the snake, who is being chased away from his habitat.
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Reeds near water
The poet says that the snake is tiny and green. A rough green snake is a non-venomous snake with a thin long slender body, which most people even use as pets. This line confirms the fact that the snake that is being chased by the attackers is not dangerous. The people may chase it due to lack of awareness, or for the sheer joy of enjoying it as a sport. Some people enjoy hurting submissive people and animals to exert their dominance over them. But the poet clearly does not want the snake to be caught. He says that the snake is so harmless that it cannot even cause harm to children. Snakes mostly target smaller animals that can be swallowed as food, like rabbits, mice, and therefore children can be an easy target. Also children are less aware of dangerous reptiles and are easily prone to be attacked. But neither of this, is the case with the green snake, as it is not even harmful to children.
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Slender green snake
The poet recollects that the snake had been lying there in the sand, all by himself not bothering about anything, until he was observed by the humans. As soon as the humans saw him, they felt threatened just by his mere presence and he was chased away. They pursued him through the water, until he vanished in the green reeds creating just ripples in the water. The ripples in the water is temporary indicating that his presence had become a mere memory, an oblivion.
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Ripples in water
Meaning of difficult words:
GlideTo move softly
Stroke in waterThe area that has depth in water
ReedsTall untended grass that grow near water bodies
VanishTo disappear all of a sudden
RipplesA small wave of water drops created when force is applied
SwampA small pool of water
IntrudeTo enter without permission
CautiousTo be careful
ThreatenedTo scare someone
OblivionNothingness, Unaware of everything
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. The Snake Trying- W.W.E. Ross (pp 125-126). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.