Analysis of the Poem Hunting Snake by Judith Wright

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In Hunting Snake by Judith Wright, the poet creates a dark and gloomy mood through the use of language and vivid imagery. The contrast between the peaceful atmosphere and the sudden appearance of the great black snake creates a sense of fear and danger. The poet’s choice of verbs such as quested and reeling portrays the snake in a unique and intriguing way. The diction and word choices also express a contrast between fear and admiration for the snake. Overall, the poem is simple yet captivating, and the message of the quest for prey and the transience of life is relatable.

Table of Content

Hunting Snake by Judith Wright
Sun-warmed in this late season’s grace
under the autumn’s gentlest sky
we walked, 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 see 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.

In Hunting snake by Judith Wright, the poet has created a dark, gloomy and cold mood. Using words like “…cold, dark…” Additionally, the actions of the snake, makes me shiver further helping to portray the image of the snake. Wright uses a variety of strong virtual imagery to deliver the roaring fear of the people watching the snake and of the snake itself, “Froze half-through a pace” (l.3).This quote extracts the visual imagery in the poem, making the reader actually imagine the physical footstep being taken. The phrase creates a build up of wonder and shock. Furthermore on the contrary, the first two lines of the poem suggest tranquility and peacefulness, by the use of delicate description of the atmosphere. However, what breaks this silence and peaceful mood is the ‘great black snake’. The image itself is alarming articulating fear of the snake, the reader never imagined the snake passing by being shocked and suspicious of what will happen next. Moreover, Wright introduces the snake as ‘The great black snake’.

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The opposing consonants ‘t’ and ‘k’ create harsh sounds that force the reader to slow down and pronounce these words with clarity. This shows the snakes strong extravagance declaring to the snake’s presence as a dangerous threat. The poet’s diction and word choices express a contrast between fear and admiration of the snake. For example ‘diamond scale’ represents beauty, attraction and splendor vs. ‘fierce’ in contrast embodies power, strength and danger Further, the poet uses very intriguing and unusual word choice of verbs. For example, “Quested, flickering and reeling.” These words are not the word you would think describes a snake or its movement; however the writer portrays them in a very interesting and effecting way. It makes me think deeply about the connection of the snake and these unique words. I greatly enjoyed reading this poem, as I could relate to it in my own experiences of fear and relief. Additionally, I was able to imagine the snake and its movement due to the heavy description. I took the message as the quest for a prey and also that things come and go (the snake passing by). I liked how the poet really emphasizes on the aspects of the snake’s movement; which has a very soothing and tingly affect on me. This poem is simple yet absorbing, tensioned, and captivating.

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Analysis of the Poem Hunting Snake by Judith Wright. (2016, Oct 27). Retrieved from

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