Emily Dickinson's poem, "A Narrow Fellow in the Grass", is believed to have been written in 1865, and is a vivid portrayal of one of the most infamous creatures of the natural world, the snake. "A Narrow Fellow in the Grass" is a short six stanza, narrative which tells the story of an encounter with a snake. The poem expresses emotions of intrigue, "His notice sudden is"; apprehension, "But never met this Fellow/Attended or alone/ Without a tighter breathing/And Zero at the Bone."; and regard for nature, "Several of Nature's People/ I know, and they know me; I feel for them a transport/Of cordiality". The speaker of the poem is Dickinson herself and the poem is written from first person point of view. The first quatrain sets the story up to be told like a riddle. Dickinson doesn't come right out and identify the subject as a snake, but instead refers to it as "A Narrow Fellow". Dickinson uses the word Narrow to give the reader the clue to the slenderness of the subject. She chooses to name the subject "Fellow", using the familiar term for a man or a boy and applying it to the snake. This clues the reader into the commonness of the subject. Her posing of the question to the reader in the third line "You may have met him, -did you not?" is playful and, like a riddle, draws the audience into her poem as a participant in the experience. She does this very subtly by inserting a pause near the end of the line after the word "him", however, she forgoes the question mark, which has a subliminal effect on the reader compelling him or her to read on. The final line states that the sighting of the subject comes unexpectedly, planting yet another clue for the reader to draw upon in order to solve the riddle. In stanza two the reader's focus is brought towards how the subject looks as it moves through the grass. Because of her vivid imagery "The grass divides as with a comb/ A spotted shaft is seen", the reader is now sure that the answer to the riddle is a snake. She...
Bibliography: he Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U P, 1955) 2:711-12The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, ed. R. W. Franklin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U P, 1981) 2:1137-39.
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