Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SONG OF THE SERPENT-CHARMERS, by EDWIN ARNOLD



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SONG OF THE SERPENT-CHARMERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Come forth, oh snake! Come forth, oh, glittering snake
Last Line: It costs thee dear!
Subject(s): Animals; India; Snakes; Serpents; Vipers


Come forth, oh, Snake! come forth, oh, glittering Snake!
Oh shining, lovely, deadly Nâg! appear,
Dance to the music that we make,
This serpent-song, so sweet and clear,
Blown on the beaded gourd, so clear,
So soft and clear.

Oh, dread Lord Snake! come forth and spread thy hood
And drink the milk and suck the eggs; and show
Thy tongue; and own the tune is good:
Hear, Maharaj! how hard we blow!
Ah, Maharaj! for thee we blow;
See how we blow!

Great Uncle Snake! creep forth and dance to-day!
This music is the music snakes love best;
Taste the warm white new milk, and play
Standing erect, with fangs at rest,
Dancing on end, sharp fangs at rest,
Fierce fangs at rest.

Ah, wise Lord Nâg! thou comest!—Fear thou not!
We make salaam to thee, the Serpent-King,
Draw forth thy folds, knot after knot;
Dance, Master! while we softly sing;
Dance, Serpent! while we play and sing,
We play and sing.

Dance, dreadful King! whose kisses strike men dead;
Dance this side, mighty Snake! the milk is here!
[They seize the Cobra by the neck.]
Ah, shabash! pin his angry head!
Thou fool! this nautch shall cost thee dear;
Wrench forth his fangs! this piping clear,
It costs thee dear!





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