A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

by Emily Dickinson

A narrow Fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides –
You may have met him? Did you not
His notice instant is –

The grass divides as with a Comb,
A spotted Shaft is seen,
And then it closes at your Feet
And opens further on –

He likes a Boggy Acre –
A Floor too cool for Corn –
But when a Boy and Barefoot
I more than once at Noon

Have passed I thought a Whip Lash
Unbraiding in the Sun
When stooping to secure it
It wrinkled And was gone –

Several of Nature’s People
I know, and they know me
I feel for them a transport
Of Cordiality

But never met this fellow
Attended or alone
Without a tighter Breathing
And Zero at the Bone.

Summary of A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

  • Popularity of “A narrow Fellow in the Grass”: This poem was written by Emily Dickinson, a great American poet. ‘A narrow Fellow in the Grass’ is a narrative poem about man versus animal. It was first published in the Springfield Republican in 1866. The poem speaks about the poet’s encounter with a snake. It also reflects her love for nature.
  • “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” As a Representative of Nature: This poem is an expression of wonder. It begins when the speaker encounters a narrow creature, snake, appearing, and disappearing in the grass. She attempts to describe him in friendly, civilized terms. Throughout the poem, the creature is not revealed. He is the fellow that divides grass as a comb and has got spots on his skin. To her surprise, it gets close to the speaker’s skin and then moves away. Soon, she realizes that the fellow is a snake and describes them as the swap, a Boggy Arch, a floor too cool for corn, or the places we humans visit rarely.
    The speaker tries to grab the snake, but it disappears in the blink of an eye. She says that she is well-acquainted with nature and animals and believes that animals are full of kindness and friendship except for snakes. Keeping in her mind the snake’s poisonous nature, she admits that she has never met snakes without getting nervous and yet has unconditional love for nature.
  • Major Themes in “A narrow Fellow in the Grass”: Nature versus man and fear are the major themes of this poem. The poet presents an enchanting view of nature by personifying a snake that also fills her with terror. The startling encounter with the snake makes her reconsider her warm connection with the natural world. She says that she is familiar with it and animals. However, the presence of a snake sends chills through her bones. She wishes not to meet a snake again.

Analysis of the Literary Devices Used in “A narrow Fellow in the Grass”

Literary devices are modes that represent writers’ ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices that the writers make their few words appealing to the readers. Emily Dickinson, too, has used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem is given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /oo/ in “A Floor too cool for Corn’ and the sound of /e/ in ‘But never met this Fellow’.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /n/ in “I know, and they know me” and the sound of /t/ in “A spotted Shaft is seen.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break. Instead, it continues in the next verse or line. For example,

“But never met this fellow
Attended or alone
Without a tighter Breathing
And Zero at the Bone.”

  1. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. For example, she compares the snake’s movement with whiplash in ‘Have passed I thought a Whip Lash; Unbraiding in the Sun’.
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. Here the snake is personified throughout the poem. For example, “His notice instant is”, “You may have met him? Did you not” and “He likes a Boggy Acre.”
  3. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that doesn’t need an answer. It is just posed to make the point clear. For example, ‘You may have met him?’

Analysis of the Poetic Devices Used in “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free Verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme scheme or metrical pattern.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are six stanzas in this poem, with each having four verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful when expressing love for nature and its creatures.

“Several of Nature’s People
I know, and they know me
I feel for them a transport
Of Cordiality.”