The poem begins in a very storytelling manner, throughout the poem, poet (narrator) narrates the story very plainly. The poet says that a snake came to water trough to drink the water. The poet waits for his part to collect the water and he does so without any complaint or disturbance to the snake. The poet thinks himself as if he is the second one to come and stand in the queue for his part. The snake, feeling hot, rested its throat on the cool stone surface.
It is a very hot month and somewhere (Sicilian, July month with Etna Smoking) active volcano, makes the surrounding hotter. The snake is drinking the water very silently, sometimes, raises its head to keep a watch on the poet as generally cattle do. Due to unbearable heat, the snake stops for few moments and then resumes to drink little more. Now, the poet’s mind and heart are at regular conflict, as the typical human, poet chooses to kill the snake, then just another moment he said “No”, he listens to his heart and spare the snake. However, the poet draws the decision based on the analysis of black and gold snakes; black snakes are not dangerous but gold one is very venomous.
The poet overwhelmed by feelings regarding the snake. It came then went away thankless and peacefully. The snake, as a guest is liable to hospitality. This time, the poet has become very dubious and doubts about himself. A number of questions is raising in his mind. He uses some degraded words like “cowardice”, “perversity” to criticize. However, at last, he felt so honoured, to honour the snake. Again, the poet asserts that if he were not afraid of the snake, he would have killed the snake. However, he asserts more strongly that he was most afraid yet he felt most honoured too. The poet illustrates the snake: thrice dream, curving round, and easing shoulder.
Thinking for a while, the poet keeps his pitcher picks up a log and threw at the water trough. However, the log could not hit the snake but it hastened the snake to go faster into the fissure. Somehow, it manages to get into with a sense of defiance. Now, the poet was very shameful for his act, he was regretting and accursing to human nature. Here poet has used Mariner’s Albatross as an allusion. He fears of the worst that has befall over Old Mariner, he repents leaving an opportunity to serve. The poet promises for atonement in future.