To the Snake by Denise Levertov

To the Snake by Denise Levertov

Length: 1092 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

In the poem 'To the Snake'; the author Denise Levertov use several writing techniques to portray money and gambling. She uses syntax, sound imagery, color imagery, figurative language, and symbolism to represent money and gambling. Symbolism is used cleverly throughout the poem to depict a number of things that would take numerous readings to see.
Throughout the poem the sentences are structured so that every other sentence is indented, with exception to the first two and the last four. In those sentences not indented the author chose to make every other sentence shorter so that the ends were uneven. This syntax structure gives the reader the feeling of something hard to catch or control. The author did this because money, as it is depicted in the poem, is something this person can't handle. In other words this person can't get control of money, instead the want of money is controlling them. This introduces the idea of gambling into the poem. In the poem it says, '…I swore to my companions that certainly you were harmless!';, which is the typical statement of people addicted to gambling. Once again there is the control factor. This person can not control their desire for money and, the means of getting the money, gambling. Another important syntax technique can be seen in line 12. The poem says '…for that joy, which left a long wake of pleasure…'; The words 'which left'; are put on a line alone to draw attention to them. When read without stopping, the words make it seem as if, '…a wake of pleasure…';, was left. However, if the line is read again slowly, the line seems to say, '…that joy…';, left. The author did this to show that even though the joy left, the memory of pleasure was still there, which is why this person continues to gamble. `
Sound imagery is another writing technique put to use by Levertov in the poem. When reading the poem out loud, the reader notices the 'S'; sound. The misleading 'S'; or hissing sound could be interpreted, by some readers, to be the sound of a snake. It is instead the sound of money. When gambling, it is often necessary when betting on something to count money quickly. Paper money when rubbing together makes a hissing sound very much like the sound you get when reading the poem. The hissing could also be attributed to the sound of machines or people in a casino.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"To the Snake by Denise Levertov." 16 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Analysis of Denise Levertov's A Time Past

- Analysis of Denise Levertov's A Time Past   In Denise Levertov's poem, "A Time Past," she focuses on an inanimate object that reminds her of a former love and her many feelings about their relationship and its termination.  In addition, she comments on other special people in her life and moments she spent with them.  Levertov seems to share her very real and personal feelings in this poem.  It is not totally clear whether or not she is reflecting on her life with her former husband, Mitchell Goodman, in the poem but it is very possible.  Goodman was "arraigned with other notable persons for 'conspiracy'" during the Vietnam War (1110).  The two may have divorced soon after this in...   [tags: Levertov Time Past Essays]

Research Papers
2216 words (6.3 pages)

Analysis Of The Book ' The Snake ' Essay

- The snake is associated with both negative and positive, or duality, even in christianity. This is shown in the bible in the story of Adam and Eve.The snake in the tale traditionally has been thought to be Satan the devil. However, in this story the snake resembles Prometheus. It gives the humans something that belongs only to the gods, something he believes the human 's need for survival. It becomes their benefactor. The serpent tempts Eve into eating a fruit from the forbidden tree. She believes what he 's saying....   [tags: Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, Snake, Satan]

Research Papers
718 words (2.1 pages)

The Psychology of the Serpent in D.H. Lawrence's Snake Essay

- The Psychology of the Serpent in D.H. Lawrence's 'Snake'       Less than 17% of the world's snakes are poisonous and less than half of these are dangerous to man. The risk of death as a result of snakebite is, in fact, lower than the risk of being struck by lightning (Pinney 138). Nonetheless, cross-culturally and throughout the world, the snake is an object of fascination, fear, and respect for humankind. The serpent is a source of symbolic speculation, as it appears in myth, dream, literature, and religion....   [tags: Lawrence Snake Essays]

Research Papers
1565 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on Explication of Mary Oliver’s “The Black Snake”

- In Mary Oliver’s poem “The Black Snake,” the narrator contemplates the cycle of life with the unpredictability of death. Mary Oliver’s work is “known for its natural themes and a continual affirmation of nature as a place of mystery and spirituality that holds the power to teach humans how to value one’s life and one’s place” (Riley). In the poem, The Black Snake, the narrator witnesses a black snake hit by a truck and killed on a road one morning. Feeling sympathy for the snake, the narrator stops, and removes the dead snake from the road....   [tags: Poetry Analysis ]

Research Papers
1158 words (3.3 pages)

The Snake Essays

- Joseph Campbell, who became the most famous scholar of world religions, because of his book, The Power of Myth. In his studies of world religions over his long career, Campbell discovered powerful and often repeated ideas that imbue all the religious traditions of the world. He found that the stories we call myths were at one time, or is still, a part of all religions and represents attempts to answer pretty much the same fundamental questions. What makes these myths powerful is that they are so basic to all human questing....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1672 words (4.8 pages)

Lawrence 's Snake, And Langston Hughes 's `` Snake `` Essay

- Have you ever felt like you had to live up to an ideal that is just not in you to live up to. Have you been pressured to act a certain way because that’s what’s considered the norm. If you answered yes to these questions, fear not. Societal pressures and expectations have been around for centuries. People have been singing, writing, painting, and talking about these feelings of expectation for just as long. D.H. Lawrence’s “Snake,” and Langston Hughes’s “Theme in English B,” speak to the struggles of societies expectations....   [tags: Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes]

Research Papers
1185 words (3.4 pages)

Overwatering and Snake Plant Essay example

- Introduction If your thumb is everything but green, growing a snake plant (Sansevieria spp.) can be ideal, because it require minimal care and is hard to kill. Also referred to as mother-in-law's tongue, this African native grows erect, sword-shaped leaves and is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12. (See References 1) Although easy-to-grow, there are still some problems that can effect the growth of your plant. Too Much Water One of the main problems that snake plants face is overwatering, which can result in root rot and the decline of the plant....   [tags: sansevieria, temperature, appearance]

Research Papers
557 words (1.6 pages)

The Nature of Evil in What Were They LIke and Vultures Essay

- The Nature of Evil in What Were They LIke and Vultures The two poems, 'What Were They Like' and 'Vultures' make the reader think carefully about the nature of evil due to the use of poetic devices by the authors Chinua Achebe and Denise Levertov, the way in which each poem is structured and presented and also the way in which evil is shown in each poem. The poem 'Vultures' portrays a contrast between good and evil, it shows how the two elements can be linked even through complete dissimilarity....   [tags: English Literature Levertov Achebe Essays]

Free Essays
446 words (1.3 pages)

Review of Snake by D.H. Lawrence Essay

- Review of Snake by D.H. Lawrence Vocabualry: *Carob-tree: a red flowered tree originally in the Mediterranean area. * pitcher : tall, round container with an open top and large handle. * flickered: moved * mused : think about * bowel: bottom of earth * perversity: offensive * log: tree trunk * clatter: v. loud sound of hard things hitting * convulsed : violent movement * writhed: to twist and turn in great pain * paltry: worthless Background : D.H....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
1491 words (4.3 pages)

snake bites Essay

- snake bites Bob was walking in the woods one day when his life was put in great danger. He had just stepped over a log when he felt a sharp sting on the back of his leg. He looked down and saw two small puncture wounds on his leg. The stinging sensation instantly went throughout his body and that was when he saw a snake still laying beside the log he had just stepped over. Bob had many questions running through his head. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know if the snake was poisonous. Bob began to panic....   [tags: essays papers]

Research Papers
2400 words (6.9 pages)

The sound is not very distinct but it does resemble hissing.
One of the most convincing aspects of the poem that leads the reader to believe the poem is about gambling and money is the use of symbolism. The speaker is addressing this snake throughout the poem but each time says, 'Green Snake&#8230;'; instead of just snake. This shows that it was not the snake that was important, but its color. The color green of course is the color of paper currency, which leads back to the idea that the poem is about money. Next, is the color gold, which is often the color of jewelry, whether the metal is real gold or not. The gold referred to in the poem is most likely a necklace bought with gambling money. The line, '&#8230;when I hung you round my neck and stroked your cold, pulsing throat&#8230;glinting arrowy gold scales&#8230;';, gives the idea that the gold is indeed a gold necklace because the speaker put it around their neck. Last, the color silver appears in the poem. In reference to money, silver is the color of coins, excluding the penny. This is one of the cleverest uses of symbolism in the poem. In the passage it reads, '&#8230;and I felt the weight of you on my shoulders, and the whispering silver of your dryness&#8230;'; This part of the poem deals with the speaker having no money. Usually when speaking of money the word dry is synonymous with lack. Most of the time when you are low on paper currency you have coins which goes back to the color silver. Staying with the same topic the, '&#8230;weight of you on my shoulders&#8230;';, is talking about the stress the speaker has from not having money. The last bit of symbolism comes in the last part of the poem where it says, '&#8230;as the leaves moved and you faded into the pattern of grass and shadows, and I returned smiling and haunted, to a dark morning.'; The leaves moving are symbolic of time passing. As the seasons change the leaves always go through some kind of change which is why the leader is led to believe that the leaves represent some portion of time, which could be great or small. The word fading says to the reader that the money the speaker has gained in gambling is now all gone. The idea that it faded into the pattern of grass and shadows makes the reader think that the speaker is going to gamble again and start the cycle over. First lets look at the grass. Grass when cut grows back every time, under normal conditions. This applied to the gambler means that each time the money gets short the speaker is going to gamble again to get more money or make their cash supply grow just like grass. The same principle applies with shadows. The sun comes up and the shadows began to form. As the sun goes down the shadows leave. This constant growing and decreasing cycle can once again be applied to the speaker either losing or all their money and then regaining it by gambling. The part, which discusses how the speaker returns smiling and haunted, refers to the speaker facing his/her friends. The speaker smiles to assure them there is no harm done, while they are really haunted because they cant kick the habit and it is consuming them. The dark morning is of course when the speaker starts the whole cycle all over again.
The author used a variety of elements like syntax, symbolism, and imagery to tell a story of a person addicted to gambling. Levertov cleverly used things in nature like a snake and grass and leaves to represent different parts of the gamblers problem. Even things so overlooked in nature as shadows were used as tools by Levertov to get a point across about the speaker. Denise Levertov in writing the poem wrote a detailed description of one thing and many things at the same time making the topic of the poem whatever you interpret and prove it to be.
Return to