Poussin’s ‘Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake’ – Ranjit Hoskote

Poussin’s ‘Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake’


Lying there. Just knotted and crushed
by speckled coils. A whistling snap and bite.
I could have sworn I saw him smile.
But wrong, that. That was only his last try,
a grabbed breath short

of shining back to a table’s warmth,
the glow of fruit, his girl’s toasted cheeks.
He’s lying there and all the fishwife can do
is shrug her shoulders, throw up her hands:

This happens all the time, you know.
Got to go, they’re bringing the catch in.
Watch out for the nets, the thickets, the pits.
Don’t stumble around in the dark.
Don’t ask for it.

Ranjit Hoskote

About Ranjit Hoskote

Ranjit Hoskote is a poet and independent curator based in Bombay. His seven collections of poetry include 'Vanishing Acts' (2006), 'Central Tim'e (2014), 'Jonahwhale' (2018), and, most recently, 'The Atlas of Lost Beliefs' (2020), published by Arc in the UK. His translation of a celebrated 14th-century Kashmiri woman mystic’s poetry has appeared as 'I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded' (2011). Hoskote curated India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, under the title 'Everyone Agrees: It’s About to Explode' (2011). He has been honoured, by the Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Letters), with the Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award and the Sahitya Akademi Translation Award. Hoskote’s poems have been translated into German, Hindi, Marathi, Irish Gaelic, Swedish, Spanish, and Arabic.