Where are the turns in this poem? Do you think this poem is about struggling with homosexual urges?

Expert Answers
kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the imagery and subject of the poem clearly lend themselves to phallic interpretation, I do not feel that there is an indication of homosexual urge. I do feel that Lawrence is bemoaning the accepted convention that,  as symbolized by the snake in the poem, male sexuality is often demonized and recoiled from in art and literature. I think Lawrence’s  work reveals his desire for manhood  to be celebrated, revered and respected.

In lines 1-15 Lawrence describes the snake arriving at the water trough, and lines 15-17 reflect the first turn or contemplation as Lawrence realizes the snake has superceded him: he is the

Second-comer, waiting.

Lines 18-28 look at Lawrence considering the accepted reaction and society’s expected outcome of the situation-

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

Up to line 20 Lawrence wrestles with his personal admiration for the creature versus the ‘voices’ of acceptability. The next turn is his decision.

In the final section the poet chooses a ‘clumsy log’ to throw at the snake and instantly regrets his ‘mean act’. He has given in to the accepted code rather than his instinct.