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Serpent: Annotated Resource List

Below, you'll find detailed discussions of literature and resources that enrich the teaching of Alberto Luna's poem "Serpent," translated by Susy Delgado and Susan Smith Nash.

From Three Poems by Enriqueta Lunez, Translated by Clare Sullivan
  • "Second Poem:" Lunez’s second poem provides an interesting comparison to Luna’s “Serpent” Unlike "Serpent,” in which the narrator claims full autonomy from others' ideas of good and evil, the speaker of Lunez's poem looks to a mother for moral guidance, hoping to connect with the spiritual traditions of the past.

  • "Third Poem:" Like the narrator in the poem “Serpent”, the speaker of the third poem seeks an independent identity; however, her approach is different. In this poem, the speaker rejects the restrictions and imposed acculturations of the colonial era, looking to pre-Colonial history for an authentic identity.

Alice Eather's “Yúya Karrabúra” (Fire is Burning)

In the opening poem, Eather speaks in English and Ndjébbana languages to convey her Aboriginality and desire for reconciliation between Black and White people. She explores the ancestry of her maternal Aboriginal ancestors and her father’s Irish convict ancestors. She claims autonomy in being her authentic self.

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiz, by Gloria Anzaldúa

Gloria E. Anzaldúa was a Chicana author; in this book, she delves into the "borderlands" of language and culture that lie between the U.S. and Mexico. There are parallels to the intersections of Spanish and Guaraní culture: an article in the World Heritage Encyclopedia compares the Guaraní-Jopara language to the Spanish spoken at the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • "Chapter 2: The Source of My Rebellion:" Anzaldua interrogates social norms across religion, sexuality, gender, race, and class. Like the speaker in the poem “Serpent”, Anzaldua rejects preconceived notions of good and evil. She opts to embrace her identity as a masculine lesbian and reclaim her Indigenous heritage as a Mexican mestizaje.

  • "Chapter 5: How to Tame a Wild Tongue:” Anzaldua examines aspects of Spanish and English spoken by Mexican/ Mexican-American in the United States. The variations of Spanish languages spoken by Mexican-Americans (Chicanos) connects to Elisa Taber’s discussion of Indigenous language in “Ñe’ ẽ: An Introduction to Contemporary Guaraní Poetry”.

Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman

In Section 1 of Whitman’s book-length poem, he articulates an autonomous identity, shaped by nature, language, and lived experiences. Students might compare the explorations of identity in this section with those in “Serpent."