Securely sunning in a forest glade,
A mild, well-meaning snake
Approved the adaptations he had made
For safety’s sake.
He liked the skin he had—
Its mottled camouflage, its look of mail,
And was content that he had thought to add
A rattling tail.
The tail was not for drumming up a fight;
No, nothing of the sort.
And he would only use his poisoned bite
As last resort.
A peasant now drew near,
Collecting wood; the snake, observing this,
Expressed concern by uttering a clear
But civil hiss.
The simple churl, his nerves at once unstrung,
Mistook the other’s tone
And dashed his brains out with a deftly-flung
Security, alas, can give
A threatening impression;
Too much defense-initiative
Can prompt aggression.
Richard Wilbur's Other Poems
Read poems about / on: snake
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (A Fable by Richard Wilbur )
- IS THIS PUZZLING TO YOU?, Michael P. Johnson
- PAHILO NAJAR TIMIMA, Pankazz koirala Upadhayaya
- WHEN SINNERS HEAR, Michael P. Johnson
- Last night I felt how it feels, Krishna Shivkumar yadav
- LET REASON SPEAK, Michael P. Johnson
- Journeys On The 7.20, Linda Dobinson
- Shackles I Cannot Face, Margaret Alice Second
- Drug abuse, hasmukh amathalal
- Welwichia Mirabilis, Bobsammy Munyoki
- Remain pure, hasmukh amathalal
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Conscience, Henry David Thoreau
- All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- A Night In A Haunted House, Peter Madden
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- A Thing of Beauty (Endymion), John Keats
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
Henry David Thoreau
(12 July 1817 – 6 May 1862)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)