Line-by-line Analysis of ‘Hunting Snake’ by Judith Wright

Hunting Snake by Judith Wright

1) The environmentalist Judith Wright shares her experience of coming face to face with a snake when she was with a friend. She remembers the warm autumn day, which she personifies as having a lot of grace.

2) The poet, being a lover of nature, fondly remembers the bright and pleasant day as she walked along a nature trail.

3) She remembers being with a friend and suddenly both of them froze in their tracks. Her initial reaction is a common one of fear and shock.

4) The poet reveals the reason for her fear as a big black snake that crossed their path. She uses the word ‘great’, which is not commonly used to describe a serpent.

5) Ironically, in contrast to the title, the serpent was not poised to attack the humans in its path. The snake observed by the poet and her companion had its head down and was moving in search of its prey.

6) She effectively uses personification to bring the whole environment alive around this creature. She describes the grass parting to make way for the beautiful creature.

7) The poet establishes her proximity to the serpent by describing how she observed the sunlight lighting up its diamond scales. The metaphor displays how she considers the creature as priceless as a diamond.

8) She remembers grasping for breath as she and her companion watched the great snake pass by. This sudden encounter that left them breathless, delivers the message of peaceful co-existence in nature.

9) The poet wonders what the serpent was in search of as it crossed their path that day. She and her friend could imagine the little prey get away.

10) The poet continues to wonder what kind of small animal forced the hungry predator to follow it. She uses the words ‘fierce intent’ to describe the common human understanding of a serpent being a predator.

11) The poet remembers barely thinking about anything at the time, other than the snake, as she and her friend remained motionless as the serpent crossed them.

12) She remembers not being able to get her eyes off the magnificent creature as it reeled pass them.

13) The poet recalls the snake with a great fondness as she uses the words ‘cold, dark and splendid’ together. The word ‘splendid’ is another unusual term to describe a serpent; this clearly indicates her respect and admiration of the creature.

14) The poet remembers the snake slithering into the personified grass that hid its prey.

15) The poet and her friend remember taking a deep breath after the snake had moved on and they realized where they were.

16) They looked at each other amazed and pleased by the experience, and went on their way just like the snake.

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4 thoughts on “Line-by-line Analysis of ‘Hunting Snake’ by Judith Wright

  1. I like your analysis of poem and I use them from time to time. For this I thank you.
    In this case I referred the poem to my wife. My wife is Australian (and now teaches Biology to A level) and this is one of the classic poems that you are taught at school in Australia. She pointed out to me that the poem is all about terror. These snakes kill with one bite. They are among the most dangerous snakes on earth. There is nothing cosy or contented about this poem. They are terrified. When they see the snake they keep still, so as not to be attacked. The poem says that they did not what food it was after “we scarcely thought” because they could not think at all. They were petrified, unable to think and forcing themselves not to move. They took a deeper breath of day and looked at each other thankful that they are still alive, and went on their way.
    Just thought I’d mention it. Not that it matters, the point is obviously that the students should write something which holds together.
    Best wishes

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