Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

The Snake in full: Read the ‘anti-immigration’ song lyrics quoted by Donald Trump

The Republican front-runner for presidency has recently revived recitations of controversial parable that he argues is a warning against accepting refugees

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Friday 15 December 2023 16:50 GMT
Donald Trump reads poem The Snake at CPAC 2018

Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, made a habit of quoting from the lyrics of a controversial song apparently warning against immigration during his first successful campaign for the American presidency.

Entitled “The Snake,” the song was actually written by civil rights activist Oscar Brown in 1963 and was a hit for soul star Al Wilson five years later.

In Mr Trump’s interpretation, it serves as a cautionary tale about the supposed danger posed by immigrants, recounting the allegorical tale of a woman who foolishly embraces a dangerous serpent.

However, Brown’s children submitted a cease-and-desist letter to the Republican, insisting that his interpretion did not match their father’s, who, they said, had no prejudice against migrants.

Undeterred, Mr Trump would occasionlly revive the recitation at rallies for his adoring Maga acolytes while president, notably trotting it out for at an event marking his first 100 days in the White House and again in his headlining Saturday night address to the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in February 2018.

“Think of it in terms of immigration,” the former reality TV star helpfully advised his audience.

During his successful 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump prefaced the lyrics by talking about the perils of accepting Syrian refugees, a theme he continued to pursue from the Oval Office after moving to block arrivals to the US from Muslim-majority nations.

He continued to warn throughout his first term from 2017 to 2021 that a porous border with Mexico was allowing criminals and drugs to flow into North America from the south, bolstering the construction case for his notorious white elephant border wall.

He offered plenty of criticism of America’s legal immigration process too, arguing that mechanisms like diversity visa lotteries and refugee admissions offer a route into the United States for terrorists and other bad actors who pose a danger to public safety.

Mr Trump appears to have revived the song once more of late, quoting it as recently as September 2023.

If you would care to examine “The Snake” for yourself and make up your own mind about its intentions, here are the lyrics in full:

On her way to work one morning,

Down the path alongside the lake,

A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake.

His pretty-colored skin had been all frosted with the dew.

“Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I'll take care of you.”

“Take me in oh tender woman,

“Take me in, for heaven's sake,

“Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake.

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk

And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk .

Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived.

She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived.

“Take me in, oh tender woman ,

“Take me in, for heaven’s sake,

“Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake.

Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried.

“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died.”

Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight .

But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite.

“Take me in, oh tender woman,

“Take me in, for heaven’s sake,

“Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake.

“I saved you,” cried that woman.

“And you've bit me even, why?

“You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die.”

“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin,

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in,

”Take me in, oh tender woman,

“Take me in, for heaven’s sake,

“Take me in oh tender woman,“ sighed the snake.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in