The Hunting Snake (Student Notes)

It is a simple poem with 4 stanzas and monosyllabic lines. This simple structure, shows the harmony of the nature. Speaker adores the nature and she realizes the importance of nature in the poem. Snake’s movements and the speaker’s attitude is regular and tight that the poem is  very easy to understand with this structure.

The sound effects used in this poem represents snake’s movements and actions. It is effective for the speaker because she gets frightened and impressed of snake’s actions. Alliteration is mostly used to describe these things.(“f” sound in followed,food-”s” sound in still,stood) Aliteration helps us to feel like the speaker.

Imagery and contrast are also very important. Visual imagery like “under the autumn’s gentlest sky” shows the peaceful mood and tone. Imagery shows admiration,awe,scary mood mostly. It creates the effect of the speaker’s feelings towards the snake.

An essay by a student about these points:

This poem is considered one of the most simple poems , yet striking in its experience. It deals with a personal feeling experienced by the poet who happened to meet a snake once. Her feeling at that moment is somewhat confusing. She is bewildered by  the sense of awe and fear and how these two contradictory feelings co-exist and intermingle in a way that surprises not only the speaker but also the reader.

The poem is written in traditional four-line stanzas, a simple rhythm and rhyme pattern. The speaker opens the poem with a perfect picture. It’s a wonderful weather “sun-warmed in this late season’s grace”, it’s autumn where the weather is mostly warm and quiet. The first stanza suggests that everything seem in harmony, the sky is “gentlest” and the pace is slow and romantic. Such words never bring in the reader’s mind any suspicion or doubt. On the contrary, it suggests tranquility and romanticism. However, what breaks this silence and peaceful mood is the appearance of “great black snake” the image itself is shocking and horrifying. The reader never imagined the “reeling by” snake. The vivid imagery used in this stanza sounds wonderful and appealing.

Moving on to the second stanza, the speaker starts giving a graphic description of that “great black snake”, the colour itself is terrifying and build an intense image that contradicts with the perfect picture she created earlier. The speaker extends this horrific picture through the few lines that followed “head down, tongue flickering on the trail” the reader senses danger every where now. The speaker is building a dark, scary picture of a snake who is wondering about looking for a prey in the grass.


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