What are the speaker's feelings toward the snake, and how can you deduce this?

Quick answer:

The speaker feels a sense of kinship and liking for the snake. We can tell this because of the pleasant imagery used to describe the snake and because the speaker personifies the creature in positive ways. The speaker also tells us plainly that he likes the snake and that he is sorry he frightened it away by throwing a log at it.

Expert Answers

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Even before the speaker states plainly, "I confess how I liked him," the imagery Lawrence uses shows that the speaker sees the snake in a positive light. Normally, people tend to be frightened of snakes and to treat them as the hated or dreaded "other," but this speaker personifies the snake, treating it as if it is a fellow human being. The imagery Lawrence uses to describe the snake reveals him to be nonthreatening, a pleasant companion at the watering place. The snake

trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough And rested his throat upon the stone bottom, And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, He sipped with his straight mouth, Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body, Silently.
Words like "slackness," "soft-bellied," and "softly" show the snake as a creature who is not dangerous. There is no hissing, raising the head as if to strike, or violent motions in this creature.
The snake is personified as "someone," as if he is human, and to the speaker, it seems he "muses" on what he sees when he looks around.
The speaker, though he knows from its coloring that the snake is poisonous, can't muster any real sense that the snake is a threat. He knows he should kill it and wonders why he doesn't, but Lawrence's imagery tells us why: the snake is a pleasant creature.
Finally, the speaker halfheartedly throws a log at the snake, which misses but sends the snake slithering off. The speaker feels "vulgar" and petty for having done this. He thinks of the albatross the mariner carelessly kills in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a noble bird created by God and worthy of respect. In treating the snake poorly, the speaker feels he has
missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.

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