CONSIDERING THE SNAIL
by Thom Gunn
THE snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth's dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,
pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail's fury? All
I think is that if later
I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.
This is a most unusual poem. At a first, quick glance it might seem just a vivid, descriptive poem. But soon we have to acknowledge that the deliberate rhythms create a most original music, and that the lucid, muscular language has a compelling power. How does this description of a snail become so charged with
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Publication information: Book title: Modern Poetry:Studies in Practical Criticism. Contributors: C. B. Cox - Author, A. E. Dyson - Author. Publisher: Edward Arnold. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1963. Page number: 147.
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