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Exploration of Poetic Technique in 'Hunting Snake' by Judith Wright

Exploration of Poetic Technique in 'Hunting Snake' by Judith Wright

Discuss ‘Hunting Snake’ in detail commenting on the ways in which the poet presents the hunting snake.

Sun-warmed in this late seasons grace
under the autumn’s gentlest sky
we walked on, and froze half-through a pace.
The great black snake went reeling by.

Head-down, tongue flickering on the trail
he quested through the parting grass;
sun glazed his curves of diamond scale,
and we lost breath to watch him pass.

What track he followed, what small food
fled living from his fierce intent,
we scarcely thought; still as we stood
our eyes went with him as he went.

Cold, dark and splendid he was gone
into the grass that hid his prey.
We took a deeper breath of day,
looked at each other, and went on.

Judith Wright presents “Hunting Snake” in a simple manner, one that corresponds to the content of the poem. The simplicity of style employed is similar to the simplicity of the moment narrated. The snake itself, despite being widely regarded as deadly and venomous, is portrayed simply in the poem- straight, of one soled colour and moving in one direction. Throughout the poem, a contrast is set up between the stillness of the onlookers and the movement of the snake. This contrast seems to be the reciprocal of most notions held today, for it is mankind that has the power to act, while nature stands still, subservient. The poet intends for a feeling of confusion to arise in the reader, one that is created by the emergence of two powerful emotions in the scene that unfolds- fear and awe. These feelings contradict each other and in so doing surprise both the speaker and reader and contribute to the trance that washes over the moment. The focus then shifts from the moment experienced to the expression of feelings. A realistic moment is depicted; one that stirs the reader- the emotions stirred then become the prime focus of the poem.

An interesting atmosphere is created by the poet’s choice of words. Opening with a perfect picture “Hunting Snake”...

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