by Edwin Arnold (1832 - 1904)

Song of the Serpent‑Charmers
Language: English 
Come forth, oh, Snake! come forth, oh, glittering Snake!
Oh shining, lovely, deadly Nâg! appear,
Dance to the music that we make,
      This serpent-song, so sweet and clear,
      Blown on the beaded gourd, so clear,
                So soft and clear.

Oh, dread Lord Snake! come forth and spread thy hood,
And drink the milk and suck the eggs; and show
Thy tongue; and own the tune is good:
      Hear, Maharaj! how hard we blow!
      Ah, Maharaj! for thee we blow;
                See how we blow!

Great Uncle Snake! creep forth and dance to-day!
This music is the music snakes love best;
Taste the warm white new milk, and play
      Standing erect, with fangs at rest,
      Dancing on end, sharp fangs at rest,
                Fierce fangs at rest.

Ah, wise Lord Nâg! thou comest!--Fear thou not!
We make salaam to thee, the Serpent-King,
Draw forth thy folds, knot after knot;
      Dance, Master! while we softly sing;
      Dance, Serpent! while we play and sing,
                We play and sing.

Dance, dreadful King! whose kisses strike men dead;
Dance this side, mighty Snake! the milk is here!

(They seize the Cobra by the neck)

Ah, shabash! pin his angry head!
      Thou fool! this nautch shall cost thee dear;
      Wrench forth his fangs! this piping clear,
               It costs thee dear!


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website: 2010-04-08 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:03:38
Line count: 31
Word count: 212