Brazilian Verses

“Poison of Asps”

(A Brazilian Snake-Farm)

Rudyard Kipling

“POISON of asps is under our lips”?
    Why do you seek us, then?
Breaking our knotted fellowships
    With your noisy-footed men?

Time and time over we let them go;
    Hearing and slipping aside;
Until they followed and troubled us—so
    We struck back, and they died.

“Poison of asps is under our lips”?
    Why do you wrench them apart?
To learn how the venom makes and drips
    And works its way to the heart?

It is unjust that when we have done
    All that a serpent should,
You gather our poisons, one by one,
    And thin them out to your good.

“Poison of asps is under our lips.”
    That is your answer? No!
Because we hissed at Adam’s eclipse
    Is the reason you hate us so.

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