Compare and contrast aspects of personal reflection in the poems 'Hunting Snake' by Judith Wright, 'The Woodspurge' by D. G. Rossetti and 'The Cockroach' by Kevin Halligan. Please include tone,...

Compare and contrast aspects of personal reflection in the poems 'Hunting Snake' by Judith Wright, 'The Woodspurge' by D. G. Rossetti and 'The Cockroach' by Kevin Halligan. Please include tone, persona, and literary features.

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morningvictoria | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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These three poems handle personal reflection in a remarkably similar way.  They are all written in a casual first person voice and are similar in length.  All three give the impression of an unhurried persona who falls into a reverie as they observe a small facet of nature.  For example, the walkers in Wright's 'Hunting Snake' poem come across as quite passive in relation to the snake which "quested through the parting grass".  The persona, by contrast, is "Sun-warmed in this late season's grace".  The leisurely, reflective mood of the speaker here is further emphasised by the steady rhythm of alternate rhymes and regular stanza lengths which Wright has chosen to use.  Rossetti and Halligan use very similar formal approaches in their poems to achieve a comparably ruminative tone.

Furthermore, the three poems also feature similar gentle personal epiphanies in the closing lines.  An 'epiphany' can be said to be the sudden experience of a fresh understanding about life.  The three personas here achieve a subtle revision of their sense of self which amounts to a new clarity about who they are.  As Halligan observes the mundane and arbitrary activities of the cockroach, it is as though he is seeing himself from a new vantage point.  In particular, the image of the cockroach...

flipping right over to scratch his wings-

As if the victim of a mild attack

Of restlessness that worsened over time...

...seems to explore the notion that humans too can get caught up in irritable minor activities to cope with their ennui.  As the reverie develops, Halligan finally realises that he recognises himself in the cockroach.  By slight contrast, Rossetti and Wright finish with newly sharpened vision as opposed to a definite identification with the object of their study.  After watching the snake, Wright's walkers are able to take "a deeper breath of day" and Rossetti's persona rests his mind in the simple fact that "The woodspurge has a cup of three."

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