A Narrow Fellow in the Grass – 1

“A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” By Emily Dickinson. “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” Is believed to have been written in 1865. About a year later it was published under the title “The Snake” by a journal called Springfield Republican. This poem express nature’s infamous creatures, the snake. The poem is built around what appears to be and what is. This poem is meant to be read aloud and appreciated for it’s precision. Some would say “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” is perhaps the most nearly perfect poem addressing nature. Also this poem itself has received a great deal of critical attention.

In the opening lines, Dickinson cleverly states the subject of the poem, a snake. She makes the snake sound harmless. The term “narrow Fellow” is a nice form of colloquial language “narrow” meaning small, and “fellow” being a familiar term for boy or man. The choice of words she uses is also interesting like the word “rides” sounds like “glides”. It gives the impression that the snake is being carried, or that it is floating about. The words could also say torment, harass, of tease which would fit the snake’s sly tempter.

Also the snake seems to take people by surprise. Lines five through eight describes the way a snake moves through tall grass. The grass is compared to hair and the snake is compared to a comb. The snake is quick, long, slender, and marked with spots. The snake slanders along in a ghost like manner. In the lines following nine through twelve the snake likes wet and mushy land. The corns dry environment is not suitable for the snakes wet environment therefore a snake will not be found in a corn field.

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In these lines he was tricked by the snake for it was not what it appeared to be. The image of a snake “wrinkling” suggests the snake was frightened by the approach of the speaker. Also, in lines seventeen through twenty the speaker claims to have a connection to the outdoors and its animals. He feels close to these creatures and he describes this connection as a “transport” In lines twenty one through twenty four the speaker describes the feeling of an encounter with a snake as a moment of shock and fear.

He mentions on how he had tighter breathing from the panic. Most people who has encountered with a snake has felt the fear and the panic. In the final line he describes the feeling with the metaphor “zero at the bone” referring to the bone chilling terror. The end suggest that the snake which is referred as harmless might possible be deceptive. The speaker, which suggest that he loves all animals, cannot love dangerous trickster the snake in the grass. The speaker reacts to the snake as if it were a living terror of the unknown, for it is both chilling and startling.

Dickinson wrote several “riddle” type poems, where she uses metaphor to compare her subject to something, without letting you know. Each stanza has “clues” in the form of imagery, pictures such as the grass “as a comb”. “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” is written in six quatrains, or stanzas of four lines each, rhyming only in the second and fourth lines. Most of the rhythms are iambic, meaning the poem has regularly recurring segments, in which the first syllable is unstressed and the second is stressed. “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” can be interpreted on several levels.

It could be read as just a description of the snake. Also Dickinson’s imagery can be read as sexually nuanced. Dickinson’s poetic technique is very much an art form she worked hard to refine and hone. The readers today can gain so much from Dickinson poems and her technique. She leaves so much unsaid, and yet, says so much with so little. Dickinson uses the device of sound throughout this poem; hearing this poem is as important as seeing the words. Dickinson creates both a visual and an auditory image of the snake with her language.

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