Monday, December 2, 2019

176. The Child And The Snake. Mary Lamb Poem Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran


The Child And The Snake. Mary Lamb Poem Appreciation

P. S. Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

01. Article Title Image By . Graphics: Adobe SP.

Innocent children form fond relationships with birds and beasts and even snakes and play with, even embrace or sleep with them. It’s because children have no caprice. It is when children grow up and gain caprice that innocence leaves them. Dogs, dears, cows, buffaloes and even elephants have not been known to have harmed children going near them and playing with them. Perhaps they can see the halo surrounding children and recognize that it is green or blue, denoting calm, peace and loveliness. 

The fondness of children for other creations in nature established in literature.

02. Image By Raphael.

It needs gentle-minded people, especially poets, to tell the tales of such ardent relationships between children and beasts. The fondness of children for other creations in nature has been a favourite subject for poetry, and poets in all ages have created such fine poems. Oscar Wilde’s story of the Child and the Beast is world famous. In William Blake’s poem The Night we see how nightly angels visit birds and animals and children and calm them in their sleep through soft whispers. Mary Lamb, the sister of the famous English writer Charles Lamb and noted for her fine pieces in children's literature, in her poem The Child And The Snake establishes that an innocent and friendly relationship is possible between a child and a snake. 

Henry’s smooth and soft-as-silk friend on the river bank.

Every morning Henry was fed with milk and bread by his fond mother which he always carried to the nearby river bank, to be shared with his friend- a bird. He was very proud of this friend of his and each day he came back from the river bank, talking and talking a lot about this pretty bird which came everyday to feed from him. ‘It loved him and his milk and it was as smooth and soft as silk.’ Anyone will wonder how a friend could be ‘as smooth and soft as silk’ unless it is a new born baby. His mother too had this doubt, but wait! He told its name was Gray Pate. In a child’s innocence, everything living will have a name, and they will communicate with children easily. In his eagerness to call his friend by a name, he had named it himself based on its colour.

The child and the snake actually enjoying each other’s company.
 03. Image By ScottsLM.

The anxious mother finally decided to meet Henry's friend in person. One day she secretly followed him to the river bank and stood behind a tree hiding. She was shocked to see that her son's friend was not a bird, but a snake. Indeed it was ‘as smooth and soft as silk’ and was a fine grey in colour. Henry was not exaggerating in his description of his friend. Her conscience told her not to shriek out of fear, for any small noise she may make would make the cunning snake afraid and wily and bite the boy. Therefore she stood still under the spreading tree, unable to speak or shriek, secretly watching the activities of the child and the snake. Soon she realized that there was no ground for fear since the pair actually seemed to be satisfied and friendly with each other. They even seemed to be enjoying each other’s company.
The danger was over and the mother’s fear changed to joy.

 04. Image By Nghang Vũ.

The mother secretly watching the child and the snake could see that they were sharing milk and bread. They were talking like familiar friends and once Henry was even seen tapping the snake on the head with his spoon to rebuke or reprimand over something. Even then the snake remained very polite and obedient to the playful child. It was only when the child rose and bid good-bye to his friend that the mother was finally really relieved of her anxiety. The danger was over and her fear changed to joy. Innocence is the basis of true friendship, whether it is man or bird or beast. 

The legendary Aztec god Quetzalcoatl was half bird and half snake.

05. Image By Youngku Lee.

We will ask why Henry described his friend as a bird when it was a snake. It was because of movements of snakes very much resembling the movements of birds, especially movements of the head and neck. Remember that the most ancient of birds originated from reptiles. Terra Dactyls were in fact crude huge reptiles with wings and feet and beak developed. In pre-historic times, birds had not differentiated much from reptiles. Still they share many common features like man sharing many common features with monkeys. The legendary Aztec god Quetzalcoatl was half bird and half snake, actually a plumed serpent. There indeed are plenty of snake birds in nature even today.

06. Image By Nel Botha.

First published on: 02 December 2019
Pictures Courtesy: Pixabay

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About the Author P. S. Remesh Chandran:

07. Author Profile Of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan: The Intelligent Picture Book. Born and brought up in the beautiful village of Nanniyode in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Trivandrum, in Kerala. Father British Council trained English teacher and Mother University educated. Matriculation with distinction and Pre Degree Studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship. Discontinued Diploma studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

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Post: P. S. Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books, Trivandrum, Padmalayam, Nanniyode, Pacha Post, Trivandrum- 695562, Kerala State, South India.


Children’s Literature, Free Student Notes, English Essays Articles Literature, Man Bird Beast Relations, Mary Lamb, The Child And The Snake,


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