The Snail Summary by William Cowper
SUBSTANCE AND CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE POEM
“The Snail’ by William Cowper takes us to the private world of a snail where he is seen to lead a selfsufficient life. We are allowed to observe in minute details, the small yet safe and secure world in which a snail lives.
In a snail’s world, besides loneliness, we can find selfsufficiency and robustness of attitude. Wherever a snail may be, on a grass-blade, on a leaf, on a fruit or advancing over a wall, he sticks so close to it that there is no chance of falling. Thus in a snail’s movement and attitude, safety and security are prominently found.
If any kind of danger appears, he has nothing to be worried about as he is always carrying his own home with himself. So the minimum smell of danger or the slightest touch from anything or anyone makes the snail enter his robust home. Thus he feels secure. Again, when his loneliness is disturbed by any means, a snail’s attitude reveals much displeasure.
In poetic eye, these individualities of a snail make him a subject of literature. Normally a snail is considered a mere insignificant creature of almost no importance as if he is not sensible. But here the snail is presented as a creature of extra sensibility. So the snail is romanticized. He is not fearful about other’s touch, but better to say, he rejects other’s intervention into his own world of sufficiency.
A snail is not unsocial, rather he prefers to remain in isolation like a hermit. So we may say that the presentation of a snail is partly symbolic. It may refer to the individuality of a poet, who is over sensitive, living in a society but consciously separating himself/herself from the humdrum of everyday life.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TITLE
The poem deals with a snail’s relation with his house. It also talks about the way a snail likes to live his life. The snail finds comfort in his shell, that too with himself only. To separate a snail from his house would surely be a futile effort. The title is apt as the poem highlights the qualities found in a snail.
PARAPHRASE OF THE POEM
The snail sticks close to a grass or a leaf or a fruit or a wall. He has no fear to fall. It seems as if he grew there with his shell. In times of danger, he hides in his house for security. If his horns are given the slightest touch, he shrinks into his shell with much displeasure. He dwells alone, has no friend and is satisfied to be his own whole treasure.
1. The snail remains attached to a grass, a leaf, a fruit or a wall.
2. He does not fear to fall from them.
3. He remains safe inside his house (shell) from danger.
4. He with much displeasure enters his shell at the slightest touch.
5. He lives all alone, without any personal belongings.
6. He is contented to be his own treasure.
The Snail Summary by William CowperThe Snail Summary by William CowperThe Snail Summary by William CowperThe Snail Summary by William CowperThe Snail Summary by William CowperThe Snail Summary by William CowperThe Snail Summary by William CowperThe Snail Summary by William Cowper