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Comparison of Snakecharmer and In the Snake Park
There are many methods available for poets to utilize in creating a desired effect. They may take a number of different approaches to enhance an aspect of their poetry. Both Snakecharmer, by Sylvia Plath and In the Snake Park, by William Plomer show how the poets take advantage of different techniques to illustrate the world of the snake, and draw us into it. Plath using diction and Plomer using imagery, both describe the snake in order to establish a mood for their poems. They then proceed to show the relationships between man and the snake. Plomer applies characterization to achieve this effect, while Plath uses symbolism to do so in a more subtle manner.
Plath's use of diction to emphasize the movement of the snake produces a mood of anxiety by suggesting that something evil is stirring. Alliteration is used to make the sentences flow in the motion of a serpent. This effect is achieved by weaving the words together fluidly. It is especially effective when the snakecharmer 'pipes water green until green waters waver'. The 'sways', 'coilings' and 'writhings' which occur during the formation of his world create a feeling of restlessness. An image is conjured of a twisted mound of snakes that throbs and churns on a wave of 'green' putrid water. At the beginning of the poem, the piper 'begins a snaky sphere with moon-eye, mouth-pipe.' This is repeated at the end when he 'puts up his pipe, and lids his moony eye'. The poem is given a sense of closure. It reels as though a cycle has been completed. This makes the poem swell and flow to mimic the action of the snakes.
Plomer uses imagery to describe the snakes in his poem. This imagery shows a process of change in the snakes as they encounter humans. In the beginning of the poem 'lethargy' lies 'here and there in coils'. This portrays the snakes as languid, peaceful creatures. They are sleeping in the 'white-hot midday' sun. However, the Ringsnake is then said to be pouring 'slowly through an opening like smoke'. Using smoke as a simile is effective in changing the tone of the poem. Smoke moves very ominously, and the snakes are now waking from their peaceful sleep and emerging. Toward the end of the poem, the tone changes again.
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Plath uses symbolism to describe the relationship between man and snake. She attempts to illustrate the dark side of humanity, emphasizing the fact that sin is a powerful part of human nature. In her poem, the snakes symbolize this habitual evil. It is the evil that will be a part of every individual until people cease to exist; when 'yawns consume the piper and he tires of music'. The snakecharmer symbolizes the devil, as he creates his world from the 'snake-rooted bottom of his mind'. His world is the evil part of man; a world made of 'the simple fabric of snake-warp, snake-weft'. This use of symbolism is very apporopriate as it portrays the manner in which our habitual sin exposes itself. As negativity, it flows through us like snakes. Often it is so slippery and deceiving that we fail to notice when it controls our thoughts and influences our actions. Plath's use of symbolism is a subtle way to discuss her views of the connections between man and the snake.
Plomer, however, uses a more direct method of expressing his opinions. It is apparent that snakes are regarded as a dangerous threat to man. The use of characterization allows us to further understand the dynamics of this relationship. The 'giant Python' is very powerful and frightening to the vulnerable 'young girl' and 'blind person'. However, when the snakes are with their own kind, Plomer describes their character as lethargic and serene. The poet appears to have compassion for the snakes and realizes that they are to be viewed differently under seperate circumstances. Through the use of characterization, Plomer describes the delicate balance of nature.
It is through the use of diction, imagery, characterization and symbolism that we understand the snake and its relationship with man. These are examples of how Plath's Snakecharmer and Plomer's In the Snake Park illustrate the world of the snake using various approaches. These poets make use of the many possible ways by which they can convey the messages in their poetry. There are numerous techniques that can be applied to produce the result that the poet wishes to achieve.