With him there came his cousin, a snake,
An earthly being whom many did mistake
For a god! Crooked, gaunt, and thin
was he -
Strange, grotesque, out of the ordinary.
Deaf as the twig which he did resemble,
A never-blinking eye
which made all tremble
Who looked on him; a ghastly hood he wore
From head to neck. And dreadful as death's door
it to spy this ominous hood!
To peer on him was to turn cold your blood.
Poison and every other evil thing
one deem him; of snakes he was the king.
When any spoke to him his savage hiss
Would rattle one to complete cowardice.
It pleased him to hold cotton in his mouth
For he had lived in desert and in drought.
His manners when he came
around to eat
Were abhorrent. For he would SEIZE his meat
All of a piece! Every thing he swallowed whole,
he could wrap his mouth around a foal.
So many in our clique were proud and tall.
Pity, he seemed to have no legs
And yet the snake was worshipped, I have said -
Lord of the Universe, Supreme Godhead!
'Twas Hindeeoo, a land in which a snake
A thousand-headed cobra - did betake
Itself to an ocean all made of milk.
(I never heard a yarn quite of this ilk.)
The serpent now floats on this creamy sea
Without movement through all
Immobile on this serpent's back, a god
Lies hushed for all time. But if this seems odd,
I can inform
you of temple and shrine
In which a few hundred snakes - all divine -
Around altars and towers entwine
on finest of foods do they dine
Left by worshippers of things serpentine.
But, dear reader, I do fear I malign
beasts and do harm to my verse:
(This excess of rhyme is the cricket's curse!)
To conclude and in fairness I should
How our good serpent did suit himself well:
From his old mode of dress he would veer
Four or even seven
times a year.
He spoke straight and narrow, not with forked tongue.
But I fear I leave his virtues unsung.