Close Reading of "What the Snakes Brings to the World" by Lorna Crozier

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“What the Snake Brings to the World” is a 2002 poem by the Canadian poet Lorna Crozier. The poem is free verse, with four stanzas of 6, 4, 4 and 9 lines respectively. The poem is riddled with Biblical allusions, with the “snake” being its focal point, making extensive comment on the nature and consequences of the aforementioned snake. A dominant reading of the poem outlines the duplicity of the nature of ‘evil’ and ‘sin’ and related consequences. An alternate reading of the poem conveys the idea of the human progression reflected by post-lapsarian linguistics. Finally, a resistant reading attacks the very nature, role and impacts of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, claiming it to be fault-laden.

The primary, dominant, idea being conveyed by Crozier in the poem is that the concept of ‘sin’, or more broadly, ‘evil’, is not necessarily negative, and that the plurality it offers, both in regards to choice, and the nature of the world, is a definitively positive product of this very concept. The title itself, “What the Snake Brings to the World” suggests, right from the beginning, that there is more to the ‘snake’ than might be considered to be the case. The biblical allusion, specifically to the book of Genesis, in the fourth stanza, “the letter S traced belly-wise/outside the gates of Eden”, coupled with the direct use of the term “sin” preceding it solidifies the snake as a symbol of evil and sin. The use of enjambment in the first two lines of the first stanza, “without the snake/there’d be no letter S” places a firm emphasis on the consequences of the ‘snake’s existence, causing the reader to begin to question traditional views on such a topic. The duplicity of consequences of evil is distinctly highlighted by the use of stark contrast between stanzas, particularly the first and last. The first stanza states that “pain and sin” are a direct result of the introduction of evil in the form of the snake, whilst the last stanza asserts that without its existence...
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