A Narrow Fellow In The Grass: Exploring The Poem By Emily Dickinson
An Overview of the Poem
Emily Dickinson’s poem “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” is a brief but powerful description of a snake. In just seven lines, Dickinson captures the feeling of surprise that one might experience upon seeing a serpent unexpectedly. The poem is composed of three quatrains, with each quatrain focusing on a different aspect of the snake. Dickinson also employs several literary techniques, such as alliteration and personification, to enhance the poem’s imagery and emotional impact.
The poem opens with a description of the snake, which Dickinson depicts as “a narrow fellow in the grass.” This phrase has two possible interpretations. On the one hand, it could refer to the snake’s physical shape, as snakes are often slender. On the other hand, it could refer to the snake’s hiding place, suggesting that it was concealed in the grass. The phrase also establishes an element of surprise, as Dickinson suggests that the snake was discovered unexpectedly.
Personification and Alliteration
Dickinson employs personification to create a vivid description of the snake. She compares its movement to that of a “low whisper,” which suggests that the snake moved quickly and quietly. She also describes the snake as “uncertain,” which implies that its movements were unpredictable. By attributing human qualities to the snake, Dickinson conveys a sense of awe and wonderment.
The poem also contains several examples of alliteration. In the first line, Dickinson writes, “A narrow fellow in the grass.” Here, the repetition of the letter “f” creates a sense of emphasis and draws attention to the phrase. Likewise, the phrase “uncertain trodding” in the second line contains a repetition of the letter “t” that enhances the imagery of the poem.
Themes and Interpretations
The poem’s brevity and ambiguity make it open to a variety of interpretations. Some readers might interpret the poem as a description of a literal snake, while others might interpret it as a metaphor for something else. For example, the snake could represent a hidden danger, or it could symbolize an unknown force that is lurking in the shadows.
In addition, the poem could be interpreted as a commentary on the nature of fear. Dickinson suggests that fear is often unpredictable and hard to control. The uncertainty of the snake’s movements reflects the uncertainty of fear, which can often arise without warning. By capturing this feeling in such a concise and vivid manner, Dickinson conveys a powerful message about the nature of fear and its effects on the human psyche.
Emily Dickinson’s poem “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” is an evocative description of a snake. Through the use of personification and alliteration, Dickinson creates a vivid image of the snake that is both fearful and awe-inspiring. The poem also leaves the reader with much to consider, as its brevity and ambiguity open it up to a variety of interpretations. Whether it is read as a literal description of a snake or as a metaphor for something else, “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” is a remarkable piece of poetry that conveys a powerful message about fear and its effects on the human psyche.