A Magical Encounter with a Frog and Snake.


My task for this month of May for Dverse Poets is the ‘lai’ form. https://dversepoets.com/2019/05/09/more-lai-and-lai-nouveau/

This is derived from French poetry and involves a tight rhyme and syllable scheme. I also wanted to write about my encounter with a frog and snake when waiting by a friend’s pond while the car was being repaired. Would this form work  for this wild encounter?


On time well spent           ( Nouveau Lai)

Stay still by the pond

Only time has gone.


With those legs so long

To those depths belong


Of cold without sun.

Before the day’s done

The birds still their song.

A snake creeps along.


Back and forth darts tongue.

Where is right and wrong?


Only time has gone

Stay still by the pond.


Frog on phone in May            ( Lai Form)

This frog could be friend

So photo must send.

Tap till

All follow the trend

To share without end.

Keep still

Watch life learn to fend

For food not a friend.

Who will?

I had been quite transfixed by this wonderful wild encounter and lost in time and also knew I wanted to write about the experience. As it involves a frog and snake it brought to mind D.H. Lawrence’s poem ‘The Snake’.  I thought free verse, with one thought or impression to each line might be worth trying. We were also at a recent talk at the Alajar Renaissance Festival listening to some local poets. One topic was about Magia, the magic philosophies that brought about the renaissance and liberation from religious thought to scientific discovery. The talk was about the unifying power of ‘poesia’or poetry within nature.

I was inspired by Frank Hubeny’s poem https://frankhubeny.blog/author/frankhubeny/ because my encounter was in the soft light by a pond and  these were mysterious things. The snake did not eat the frog but was perhaps on the look out for reasonable sized fish. It was not interested in insects, tiddlers and tadpoles which were all in abundance. Both animals remained so still for so long and so did I! Were we all watching each other?Perhaps a lot is scientifically known about frogs and snakes and a lot of animal stories have made characters of these creatures,but being so close to both these wild animals accentuated for me their mysteriousness and evoked that sense of wonder if not awe with the evolutionary magic of the natural world. We do not know everything about their worlds and we cannot capture everything on photo on our phones.

After desperately trying to clear the memory of my phone for a photo of this frog so close by it moved away.Of course! A bit later the frog came back onto one of the lily pads.  And then the snake began its arrival, slithering so easily, then vertically down into the water and then swimming really fast. It didn’t seem to catch anything but perhaps it did and was then still when digesting it. I have to admit to being a little nervous but identification suggested a harmless grass snake.  By that time my phone was dying so I had to sit and just watch. It became a competition of who was going to keep still the longest. Frog, snake or me! This became a much deeper experience and observation rather than trying to take endless photos which get lost in clouds!

Frog on lily pad









Notes on the Form

The Nouveau Lai is a five syllabled couplet followed by a two syllable line. The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine and the couplets must rhyme with each other, as the two syllable lines must also rhyme. In English this line is probably the most difficult part of the poem. French is also a syllable timed language unlike English which has stress/accent on certain syllables  and many words can also be unstressed eg prepositions.

The Lai is a very old French form and tradition states that the short line must not be indented, it must be left dressed to the poem. This is known as Arbre Fourchu (Forked Tree) there is a pattern meant to be set up as a tree.

The number of lines in each stanza is fixed at nine. The number of stanzas is not fixed and each stanza has its own rhyme pattern. The rhyme pattern is… a. a. b. a. a. b. a. a. b.

41 thoughts on “A Magical Encounter with a Frog and Snake.”

  1. I like the brief summary of your encounters with the frog and snake. The snake will be frightening to me but if they keep their distance, and keep still, I am fine. Thanks for participating in our poetry form challenge – both the lai and lai nouveau. Have a good weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Grace and for the prompt challenge. I was a bit uncertain but we really do not have the same range of poisonous snakes and this did not have those markings. Even so there was still some awe, fear as the snake was moving in my direction and the frogs! And it’s swimming was fast. Quite amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful, and I learned something about poetry, too. Your prose description is also quite poetic. Flora and fauna can humble over-frenzied humans with their ability to be still and quiet. Sounds enchanting.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, indeed. The frog though was still before the snake came, perfectly camouflaged into the lily pad. It was also hidden by a large vertical bud and lily. But I wonder who knew who was there in this scenario. Think snake might have been looking for smaller frogs and medium size fish. Have been reading some of your writing but need to find time to finish. I like the way you deal with the mental health issue.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I suspect it’s impossible to know how animals perceive the world. For all we know, the frog and snake may have been friends.

        Thanks for reading my stuff. I’ve slowed down writing recently, because it’s such a large and complex set of subjects, I don’t know where to begin.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I think your idea of writing this encounter in free verse is a good one, then you can describe it exactly as you want 🙂 I’m not a fan of the lai but as you say, it’s a challenge that has to be accepted.
    We get a few different types of grass snakes and some of them are YUGE! Lucky you to see one swimming.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well done with your lais! I assume the noun ‘lai’ is connected with the old English word ‘lay’ for a song. We have grass snakes in our garden and they swim very well and surprisingly quickly, as you said. I love DH Lawrence’s poem ‘The Snake’!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m not at all familiar with poetry forms, but I do like to play with words. I enjoyed this and can well see how your encounter would be so much the better for not using your phone. 🙂 🙂


  6. Superb poems and the tight poetic format gives a sense of immediacy and intensity. Magic moments that have left an indelible impression upon your soul … as you say, just watching, being absolutely in the moment is so much more rewarding than endless streams of photos! Thank you also for the description of the ‘lai’ form and one I will give a go for fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Annika for your detailed comment. You capture the way my experience and the poetic form came together ‘sin’ camera! Being in the moment. Am ready to try a ghazal but so busy in the UK now!

      Liked by 1 person

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