Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Hunting Snake by Judith Wright Analysis

The 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 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. 

The narrator observes a warm, tranquil environment that is perceived by the reader as calm and pleasing. The froze "half-through a pace" introduces the snake as an intruder, one that is disturbing this pristine environment.

The description of the snake as beautiful yet dangerous, its size and vicious predatory intent indicates to the reader the amazing contradictions that the snake represents. "We took a deeper breath of day" shows how close the narrator believes they came to death, yet it could simultaneously indicate their amazement, and awe of being in the presence of such a remarkable, dangerous and beautiful creature.

The portrayal of the narrator at the mercy of this magnificent reptile highlights the extended metaphor that is apparent in this poem, one that show that man is till inferior to the true might of nature due to his life being at the mercy of this cold blooded hunter. The description of the snake completely ignoring the narrator ignites a sense of relief felt by the reader but it also indicates that it is not snake that is intruding but in fact it is the narrator, the humans, that are intruding into the beauty of nature.


  1. beautifuly analysed

  2. thanks for helping me out.This analysis was just what i was looking for.

  3. Great analysis, surely you could mention the verbs surrounding the snake? For instance 'quested', demonstrates the snake's purpose, and the fact that he is undeterred by the human's presence throughout his mission. That and the human's intrusion of nature link together, as it symbolises how humans cannot affect nature's actions.