Poem Analysis: "To the Snake"

Denise Levertov's poem, "To the Snake," uses the presence of a snake to express the speaker's simultaneous fear of and attraction to sexuality and intimacy. The snake itself is an overt symbol of the male member and, as such, illustrates the dangers which are presented by desire. The speaker hangs the green snake "round my neck" (Levertov 1) and strokes its "cold, pulsing throat" (2), actions which are suggestive of sexual activities. However, the snake's response to the speaker's ministrations are rife with peril. Indeed, the snake is heavy on the speaker's shoulders and responds with hisses which suggest that it is likely to bite or attack the speaker. The use of a snake in this context also evokes the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in which the snake in the Garden of Eden was used to tempt Eve to disobey God. Levertov...
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