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An Umbrian man
The story behind the poem

This poem is about the man who owned our Italian house before us and who is now our neighbor. He is as vigorous an eighty-year-old as anyone could wish to be, still planting, pruning and harvesting; he may even be seen bare-chested digging trenches.

He did remark once to someone else that he had never seen a snake. This may be true - they are not very common - but I think it more likely that he was attempting to reassure. In the poem there is someone (maybe him, maybe not) wondering under the influence of last season's wine and the drowsy heat of summer whether they have perhaps glimpsed one in the grass.

by Damaris West

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