THE PUFF-ADDER - Sir George Etherege Poems


Poems » sir george etherege » the puff adder


Here where the grey rhenoster clothes the hill,
    Drowsing beside a boulder in the sun,
Slumbrous-inert, so gloomy and so still,
    On the warm steep where aimless sheep-paths run,
A short thick length of chevron-pattern's skin,
    A wide flat head so lazy on the sand,
Unblinking eyes that warn of power within,
    Lies he, -- the limbless terror of the land.

He is the ablest specialist in death, --
    This gleam of living velvet - and in this
He finds his pride; yet, with presaging breath,
    He warns the unwary footstep with a hiss.
Go, then, and live. Remain, and in a flash
    The fangs have found their victim, and the stark
Strong hand of death with instant awful lash
    Hath struck thee, choking, to the utter dark.

Sober and thoughtful, passionless he lies
    Dreaming strange dreams that are not ours to know,
While the sun wanders through unclouded skies,
    And insects, chirping round him, come and go;
Unmov'd, unvex'd by hatred or desire,
    Calm in resistless power he disdains
The fury-blinded ringhals' insane ire,
    And rests impassive till the sunlight wanes.