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Use of Imagery in “Hunting Snake” by Judith Wright

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Which words and images are the most striking in the poem? How do they have this effect? A. ‘Hunting snake’ is a simple poem about a simple moment. However, there is a powerful message behind it as well. A very striking aspect is that something as trivial as a snake can be the focus of someone’s life at a particular moment. The diction used in this poem creates contrasting images, which are both positive and negative. This is the law of nature as well, nothing is entirely good and nothing is entirely bad. I find the rhyming scheme very striking and a great impact is created by this as well since a musical tone is given to this poem. The first stanza begins with very pleasant images such as “autumn’s gentlest sun” and good feelings such as “sun warmed”. However, the feeling of “sun warmed” is replaced by “froze” when the speaker beholds a “great black snake” crossing her path. The diction used here (sun warmed, froze) have a contrasting nature, which creates a huge effect as even the most insignificant things (such as the “hunting snake”) can cause a transition of feelings in a moment. Another contrasting effect is created when the orange and blue colors of the sky are followed by the color black, which symbolizes the entry of something evil. A very striking image of the snake is created as it goes for the kill.

The snake is focused, with it’s “head down”. The term “flickering” shows the stealth and subtleness of the snake. It is ‘questing’ through the grass, looking for it’s prey. The beauty of the snake is highlighted as it’s “curves of diamond scale” are mentioned. This creates a very fascinating picture of the snake which is so deadly, yet so attractive, as the speaker “lost breath” to pass it by. After describing the beauty of the snake by marvelous imagery, the third stanza contains diction which shows the venomous nature of the snake, describing it’s “fierce intent”. A huge effect is created as an aspect of life has been highlighted: everything which is evil has a tempting nature, which attracts humans. Just like the snake which, although has a deadly nature, the speaker seemed mesmerized by it as his/her “eyes went with him as he went”.

The next stanza describes the departure of the snake, the passing away of the simple moment around which the life of the speaker revolved around for a few seconds. The words used are very striking which invoke both fear and awe. The snake is described as “cold, dark” and then “splendid”. When the snake left, the speaker took a breath of relief. This had a very striking effect as it shows the up and down of emotions. The imagery and words used in the “Hunting snake” is simple and implies to a simple moment of a snake passing by. However, it has a deeper meaning and the transition of emotions which the persona experienced at that time can be applied to any circumstance in life which is just as stressful, and after it has passed, one takes a “breath of relief”.

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