An Essay Comparing ‘Medallion’ and ‘Snake’
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An Essay Comparing 'Medallion' and 'Snake' This essay will compare two poems, 'Medallion' by Sylvia Plath, an American poet, and 'Snake', by D H Lawrence. The title of the poem 'Medallion' automatically conjures up the image of a gold medal with a picture on it, usually awarded to commemorate an achievement. The first stanza, comprising of three lines, sets the scene for the rest of the poem. There is a gate with a moon and a star carved into the orange wood. Next to the gate, a bronze snake lies in the sun, dead, 'inert as a shoelace' the second stanza continues. The actual setting could show the snake is stuck between life and death, one half of the snake in the sunlight, or life, and the other in the shadow of the gateway, or the shadow of death. The orange of the wood could represent the sunset of the snake's life. The snake is ' Dead, But pliable still,' Showing it is only recently dead; rigor mortis has not set in yet. The semi-colon after the word 'shoelace' emphasises the death. The snake is happy in death, it is grinning, almost as though death has perfected it.
The first noticeable difference from "Medallion" is that the stanzas are irregular, reflecting the poet's train of thought. However, like the previous poem, it is also about a snake. This one though, is alive and comes to drink at the writer's water-trough. At first, he feels the snake is on an equal par to him, and treats it as his guest. He is courteous to it and waits for it to finish. The snake is personalised in the sixth line as the writer is in awe of it. The sexy, soft 'S' sounds reflect the guest's own qualities with the hissing of a snake and it's slithering from place to place. The snake's journey is described, as is the way the snake looks at him with authority, emphasising the point that Lawrence has to wait. This is followed by heavy alliteration, using the sexy 'S' description once again, which also reflects the hissing sound of the snake. The fourth stanza tells the reader Lawrence is in awe of the snake because it is perfect, and the snake has priority because of this. The snake's look tells him to wait. Suddenly, Lawrence's attitude toward the snake changes.
"And immediately I regretted it. I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!" He longs to see the snake again, but his one moment of cowardice meant this could never be possible. "And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords Of life. And I have something to expiate; A pettiness" "A pettiness" is put on a separate line as D H Lawrence wants to emphasise he has wronged, and that he regrets his act. Throughout the poem, it has been the man's education versus nature. The man feels guilty about throwing the log because he has gone against nature. These two poems are similar in the way that the traditional evil of the snake is overcome by the writer and, after close examination, the snake is seen described as a beautiful creature in both nature and appearance. The two are different in the structure; the structure of 'Medallion" is very rigid, each stanza comprising of three lines, the first line of each containing exactly seven syllables. This shows the snake and the way it should be described has been thought about carefully. There are subtle half rhymes throughout the poem between the first and third lines of each stanza. "Snake" on the other hand is very irregularly structured, with no trend followed by the rhyming scheme. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ravjit Bindarh 10B
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