Judith Wright-The Hunting Snake-Notes

Judith Wright – ‘Hunting Snake’

Judith Wright was born in Australia in 1915, and lived in that country until her death in 2000; she was intensely fond of the countryside and all that it meant to those who lived there, especially the Aboriginal people, and much of her writing also celebrates natural creatures. She once said of her own life and poetry that “the two threads of my life, the love of the land itself and the deep unease over the fate of its original people, were beginning to twine together, and the rest of my life would be influenced by that connection” (http://oldpoetry.com/authors/Judith%20Wright).

Although ‘Hunting Snake’ is clearly about a snake that the poem’s speaker once saw, and about the fear and awe that it created in her, it may also perhaps be read as hinting at other aspects of ancient Australian life. The last two lines of the poem may perhaps be suggesting something of the contrast between an ancient way of life, the new ways that the poet feels and lives in, and the fact that while the two may sometimes meet they cannot co-exist in reality.

Some points for classroom discussion:

The poem is a very tightly controlled one, with traditional four-line stanzas, a simple rhythm and rhyme pattern; how, then, does Wright create her sense of shock, fear, admiration (look at lines 3, 8, 9-10 and 13, for example) and finally her relief when the snake passes by and the danger is over? Which words and which images are the most striking? Why do they have this effect?

Suggested comparison

In ‘Pike’ Ted Hughes writes of the mixture of awe and sheer fear that he had as a child when thinking about these fishes.

Some useful biographical material can be found on these websites:

http://www.carcanet.co.uk http://www.oldpoetry.com


6 thoughts on “Judith Wright-The Hunting Snake-Notes

  1. we have this poem in our literature lessons and we have some points being discussed and i couldnt find OUR points anywhere. according to our analysis, black snake represents the aboriginal people in Australia and the person who sees this black snake is an english person who has come australia in order to engross here. these english people fear the aborigins (the black snake) at the same time they appreciate it but still they treat it as a wild animal the way all of the white people on earth treat the black people: we show an unnecessary amount of admire. do you think is that analysis is correct or totally irrelevent?

    1. Hi there! I think your analysis is great, and it really works. My students notes are from an esl class and we were really just getting a handle on the language and the effects. I am Australian working in an international school and sometimes forget these things…but maybe the the images I made for the post hinted at this? I would still be very careful about saying this is what a poem is about….we can never know really the author’S intention, but can suggest that there are possible references made to ….whatever. The real point about the poem is fear, and how the poet has achieved this through Lang and literary devices…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s