Summary of “The Snail”

Book Name : Bliss English Textbook For Class X Second Language
Subject : Bliss
Class : 10 (Madhyamik/WB)
Publisher : Prof. Nabanita Chatterjee
Chapter Name : The Snail (8th Lesson)

About the author

William Cowper (1731-1800) was one of the most popular poets of his time. Cowper changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing about the English countryside and the everyday lives of people. His famous works include Olney Hymns and The Tosk.

(50 words)

Introduction of the Poem

The poem takes us into the private world of a snail, where it is seen to lead a self-sufficient life. We are allowed to observe, in minute detail, the small yet self-contained world in which a snail lives.

(40 words)

Summary of the Poem

Bliss X 73 e1675398414241

The poem is about a snail and how it sticks close to its house, which is like a shell that protects it. The snail feels safe and secure within its house, and it only leaves it when it needs to. When it feels threatened or in danger, the snail immediately retreats back into its house. The snail is content with its own company, and it does not seek out the company of others. It is happy to live alone, and its shell is its most valuable possession, as it provides a sense of security and protection. The poem highlights the independence and self-sufficiency of the snail, and how it is well adapted to living in its environment. Despite the challenges it may face, the snail always returns to its shell, where it feels at home and protected from harm.

(150 words)

Explanation of the Poem

This poem is a short, four-stanza piece that describes the behaviour and characteristics of a snail. It was written by Charles Lamb, a British essayist and poet. Let’s break it down stanza by stanza:

Stanza 1:

“To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall As if he grew there, house and all, Together.”

In the first stanza, the poet describes how the snail attaches itself to various surfaces, such as grass, leaves, fruits, or walls. The snail clings to these surfaces with confidence, almost as if it were a part of them.

Stanza 2:

“Within that house secure he hides When danger imminent betides Of storm, or other harm besides Of weather.”

In the second stanza, the poet highlights the snail’s protective instincts. When the snail senses danger, like an approaching storm or any other potential harm, it retreats into its shell for safety. This shell serves as a secure refuge for the snail.

Stanza 3:

“Give but his horns the slightest touch, His self-collecting pow’r is such, He shrinks into his house with much Displeasure.”

The third stanza mentions the snail’s sensitive antennae, often referred to as “horns.” If someone or something touches these delicate appendages, the snail quickly withdraws into its shell with a sense of discomfort or displeasure.

Stanza 4:

“Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone, Except himself has chattels none, Well satisfied to be his own Whole treasure.”

The final stanza describes the solitary nature of the snail’s existence. The snail lives alone, with no possessions or companions. However, the snail is content with this solitary life and finds satisfaction in being self-sufficient. The poet suggests that the snail’s own existence is its most valuable possession, its “whole treasure.”

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