Class 10 English Chapter 8 The Snail – William Cowper

The Snail – William Cowper

About the Poet and the Poem:

William Cowper (1731-1800) was one of the most popular poets of his time. Cowper changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing about the English countryside and the everyday lives of people. His famous works include Olney Hymns and The Task.

The poem The Snail takes us into the private world of a snail, where it is seen to lead a self­-sufficient life. We are allowed to observe, in minute detail, the small yet self­-contained world in which a snail lives.


Analysis of the Poem:

Lines 1-8:

To grass, or leaf…Of weather.

In The Snail, the poet depicts the snail’s habit, habitat, and nature. At the beginning of the poem, we are allowed to observe, wherever a snail maybe, on grass, on a leaf, on fruit, or advancing over a wall, he sticks so close to it without any fear of falling as if he grew there. This shows that he is quite confident about his ability. The shell of the snail is inseparable and it is also his house, providing him safety and security. When he feels of any danger, whether it is from weather or anything else, he shrinks into the safe zone of his house or his shell.

( দ্য স্নেইলে কবি শামুকের অভ্যাস, বাসস্থান ও প্রকৃতি চিত্রিত করেছেন। কবিতার শুরুতে, আমাদের লক্ষ্য করার অনুমতি দেওয়া হয়েছে, একটি শামুক যেখানেই থাকুক না কেন, ঘাসে, পাতায়, ফলের ওপরে বা দেয়ালের ওপরে, সে পড়ে যাওয়ার ভয় ছাড়াই এমন ভাবে লেগে থাকে, মনে হয় যেনো সে সেখানেই বেড়ে উঠেছে। এটি দেখায় যে সে তার ক্ষমতা সম্পর্কে বেশ আত্মবিশ্বাসী। শামুকের খোলস অবিচ্ছেদ্য এবং এটি তার ঘর, যা তাকে নিরাপত্তা প্রদান করে।  যখন সে কোনো বিপদ অনুভব করে, তা আবহাওয়া বা অন্য কিছু থেকে হোক না কেন, সে তার ঘর বা তার খোলের নিরাপদ অঞ্চলে সঙ্কুচিত হয়। )

Lines 9-16:

Give but his horns…Whole treasure.

The snail has its own horns-tentacles which are stalks to help the snail to have the sense of sight and taste. The prospect of any danger or an unfriendly situation sends an alarm to his sensitive horns and he shrinks into the safe zone of his house with much displeasure. In the last, the poet depicts that the snail dwells alone, he has no friend. He lives a secluded life, self-reliant and self-satisfied as he considers himself as his own treasure.

( শামুকের নিজস্ব শিং রয়েছে যা শামুককে দৃষ্টিশক্তি এবং স্বাদের অনুভূতি পেতে সাহায্য করার জন্য ডালপালা। কোনো বিপদ বা অবন্ধুত্বপূর্ণ পরিস্থিতির সম্ভাবনা তার সংবেদনশীল শিংগুলিতে একটি অ্যালার্ম পাঠায় এবং সে খুব বিরক্তির সাথে তার বাড়ির নিরাপদ অঞ্চলে সঙ্কুচিত হয়। শেষে, কবি চিত্রিত করেছেন যে শামুক একা বাস করে, তার কোন বন্ধু নেই। সে একটি নির্জন জীবনযাপন করে, আত্মনির্ভরশীল এবং আত্ম-সন্তুষ্ট হয় কারণ সে নিজেকে নিজের ধন হিসাবে বিবেচনা করে। )


The theme of the Poem:

The Snail minutely describes the private life of the Snail. Normally a snail is considered a tiny and insignificant creature of almost no importance as if he is not sensible. But in this poem snail is presented as a creature of extra sensibility. In the poetic eye, these extra sensibilities of a snail make him a subject of literature.


Word Notes

Sticks: লেগে থাকা
Grew: বড় হয়, বৃদ্ধি পায়
Secure: নিরাপদ
Danger: বিপদ
Imminent: আসন্ন, শীঘ্রই ঘটতে পারে এমন
Horns: শিং
Shrinks: সঙ্কুচিত হয়
Displeasure: অসন্তুষ্টি
Dwells: বাস করে
Chatells: ব্যক্তিগত জিনিসপত্র
Treasure: ধন, সম্পদ


Comprehension Exercises

1. Choose the correct alternative to complete the following sentences :

a) With the slightest touch, the snail shrinks into its house with
i) displeasure ii) pleasure iii) pain iv) surprise.

Ans: i) displeasure

b) In its house, the snail leaves with
i) parents ii) friends iii) relatives iv) no one

Ans: iv) no one

2. State whether the following statements are True or False. Provide sentences/phrases/words in support of your answer:

a) The snail fears to fall from the wall. –  False.

Supporting Statement: “The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall”.

b) The snail comes out of his house during a storm. –  False.

Supporting Statement: “Within that house secure he hides / When danger imminent betides / Of storm, or other harm besides of weather”.

3. Answer the following questions:

a) What does the snail usually stick itself to?

Ans: Usually the snail sticks itself to grass or a leaf or a fruit or a wall.

b) What makes the snail well-satisfied?

Ans: The snail becomes well-satisfied to be his own whole treasure.


Grammar in Use

4. Change the following sentences into questions, as directed:

a) Siraj always rises early. (Interrogative sentence using ‘does’)

Ans: Does Siraj always rise early?

b) Joyce is the best singer in the class. (Information question using ‘who’)

Ans: Who is the best singer in the class?

c) He saw the rainbow. (Interrogative sentence using ‘did’)

Ans: Did he see the rainbow?

d) I go to school by bus. (Information question using ‘how’)

Ans: How do you go to school?


Writing Activity

5. Write a letter(within 100 words)to the editor of an English daily about the disturbances caused by the thoughtless use of loudspeakers.



The Editor

The Statesman

Kolkata – 700 001

Sub: Thoughtless Use of Loudspeakers


    I convey my displeasure, caused by the thoughtless use of loudspeakers during feasts, festivals, and political meetings. The use of loudspeakers has become an awful fashion nowadays. During pujas in the name of worship, people use the loudspeakers at a top pitch from dawn to midnight. Even personal feasts and political gatherings also do the same. The organizers have no consideration for the patients, students, or examinees. Appeals to their good sense go to deaf ears. Even police are also indifferent to complaints. No one is ready to understand the irritation of common people. It is one of the primary causes of sound pollution.

       In the circumstances, I would be thankful if you kindly highlight the above in your editorial to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to do the needful to stop this nuisance.

Address: …………………                                                                         Yours faithfully,

………………………………..                                                             Sd/……………………

Date: ………………………



Extra Comprehension Exercises

1. Choose the correct alternative to complete the following sentences :

a) “As if he grew there” here ‘he’ refers to
i) the snail ii) the tortoise iii) the earthworm

Ans. i) the snail

b) The house of the snail means
i) his shell ii) house made with clay iii) none of the above

Ans. his shell

c) The snail shrinks into his house because of
i) touch ii) storm iii) all of the above

Ans. iii) all of the above

2. State whether the following statements are True or False. Provide sentences/phrases/words in support of your answer:

a) The snail feels secure in his house.   True

Supporting Statement: “Within that house secure he hides”

b) The snail dwells with his parents.   False

Supporting Statement: “Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone”

c) The snail is satisfied to be his own whole treasure.   True

Supporting Statement: “Well satisfied to be his own whole treasure”

3. Answer the following questions:

1) How does the snail stick to its place?

Ans: The snail sticks to its places like grass, leaf, fruit, or wall very closely without fear of falling down.

2) What makes the snail well-satisfied?

Ans: The self-sufficient nature of the snail with no want for so many things makes the snail well-satisfied.

3) What does the snail do in time of danger?

Ans: The snail shrinks into its outer shell which is considered to be its house with much displeasure at the time of danger.

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