The poems “Hunting Snake” and “The Cockroach” are very different but also vastly similar poems. The predominant language feature that is common in both poems is an extended metaphor – this is used in “Hunting Snake” to represent the colonisation of the Aborigines in Ancient Australia, and in “The Cockroach” to represent human nature, values and the way we live our lives. The poem “Hunting Snake” is obviously a poem about a group of people coming across a snake, staring in awe at its beauty and dissimilarity and then moving on.
Wright uses a lot of sibilance in this poem, perhaps to emphasise the snake.
However if we explore deeper we notice that the poem is not about this at all – in fact it has an exceptionally different meaning. The entire poem is an extended metaphor for the colonisation of the Aborigines in Australia – the snake represents the Aborigines and the persona represents the colonisers. Although the colonisers saw the incredibly beautiful and unique Aborigines, they simply looked at each other and walked on – this is exactly what happens during every colonisation.
The colonisers do not think about anyone else’s feelings, just their own personal or monetary gain.
Hunting Snake is a poem about ancient beliefs and values, and the way that humans acted many years ago. In comparison, the poem “The Cockroach” is also one that addresses the issue of human nature and values. Kevin Halligan uses a cockroach to portray a ‘disgusting’ creature, one that many people are eager to kill and get rid of.
Cockroaches also have a very nomadic lifestyle – they scurry about from place to place, never settling down and are always “on the go”. Halligan wishes for us to compare the cockroaches’ lifestyle with our own – the scampering motion of the bug is a reflection of his (and all humans’) nomadic lifestyle.
By describing these frantic movements he is saying something about how most of us live our lives and our incapability to settle down – we are all in a hurry to move on to the next chapter in our lives, the next milestone, the next day, month, or year. This poem is set in modern day, it is written as if the cockroach is inside a house or a building, not outside like Hunting Snake. This technique helps to give us a better understanding of the poem – we can more easily relate it to human nature and our own lifestyles.