Not an eye you would want settling its penetrating gaze on you, giving you a cold adder-quick assessment through the lace curtains of its blood-alley veins. This is one of many descriptions of a quite terrifying individual.

‘So alive is it, this eye, quick as an adder, veined like a blood-alley.’

For other similes relating to quickness, see Tarka the Otter, including an unexpected one, and another snake-speed example from Christopher Logue’s War Music.  

See also our bestellar review of this book, with its lavishly illustrated quote-mosaic, packed with fine phrasing and fresh metaphors.  


Source: Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, introduction by Anthony Burgess (London: Vintage Books, 1998), p. 339

Photo credit: analogicus at


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