Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

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.