Each group will have 20 minutes to discuss their aspect of the poem and plan a 3-5-minute presentation to the rest of the class about their topic. I encourage you to use illustrations to help us understand your key points.
Group 1: space: What happens where in the poem? How do the characters move around within the scene? How does the narrator’s relationship to the snake change as they move? What is the significance of space in the poem? Work together to create a visual “map” of what happens in the scene and how the characters move. How does this map help us understand the poem better?
Group 2: rhythm: Describe the poem’s rhythm in general: is it smooth, choppy, or something else? Does it fluctuate over the course of the poem? If so, how does this reflect what is happening during these fluctuations? Mark 3 or 4 sections of the poem where rhythm seems important, and explain how Lawrence uses rhythm to emphasize a particular point.
Group 3: structure: How is the poem divided into stanzas? What happens in each stanza? Why do you think Lawrence has chosen to place the stanza breaks where he does? How do the stanzas underscore the poem’s thematic organization? Could Lawrence have organized the poem in a different way? Explain this alternative organizational scheme and how the poem would change as a result.
Group 4: image: What are the key images in the poem? Are they treated differently in different parts of the poem? Can these images be interpreted in different ways? If so, how? Why do you think Lawrence chose these images? How do you think he wants his readers to interpret these images?
Group 5: wisdom: Does the poem have a message? If so, what is it? What does the poem have to tell us about the way we live or the way we experience the world? Is the message easy to understand or difficult? Why do you think a poem rather than an essay or a painting was the most effective way for Lawrence to convey this message?
Group 6: style: Describe the style in which the poem is presented: it is pretentious, straightforward, obscure, direct, etc.? Come up with 4 or 5 adjectives that might describe the way in which the poem is written. What does the style in which the poem is written say about the narrator? His subject matter? Imagine another way in which the poem might have been written and describe what it might look like in that style.