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Vocabulary in A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

Vocabulary Examples in A Narrow Fellow in the Grass:

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

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"Attended, or alone ..."   (A Narrow Fellow in the Grass)

This line can be read in a few different ways. On the one hand, the speaker might be suggesting that he has never encountered a snake, whether accompanied by others or alone, that has not caused extreme anxiety. On the other hand, though snakes usually travel alone, some snakes, particularly rattlesnakes, are often spotted together around mating seasons. The sight of one snake alone is terrifying enough to send the speaker into “tighter breathing,” let alone two.

"Several of Nature’s People..."   (A Narrow Fellow in the Grass)

By “Several of Nature’s People,” the speaker is referring to animals. In other words, the speaker feels an affinity for all animals, except the snake. Because of the phallic shape of the snake, many literary critics have purported that the speaker’s fear of the snake is a symbol for Dickinson’s sexual fears. However, this is open to interpretation.

"transport..."   (A Narrow Fellow in the Grass)

The word “transport” operates in two ways here. A “transport” can refer to an emotionally charged trance or rapture. In this case, the speaker experiences an overwhelming feeling of “cordiality,” or good will, towards “Nature’s People.” By a more obscure definition, “transport” is a synonym for metaphor. Thus the speaker admits that the cordiality she feels for “Nature’s People” is an act of projection. Indeed, the personification underlying such a phrase is a marked example of metaphor. The poem’s great thematic shift is a move away from a metaphor-driven relationship with the natural world.

"You may have met Him—did you not? ..."   (A Narrow Fellow in the Grass)

The speaker directly addresses the reader here, and the dialogue seems formal, but nonchalant. The use of the verb “met” is also casual, making an encounter with a snake seem unalarming, normal, and even cordial. Note too, that the snake is personified again with intentional capitalization of “Him,” giving the snake a less menacing, more human presence.

"rides..."   (A Narrow Fellow in the Grass)

Notice that Dickinson uses the verb “rides” to describe the snake’s movement. The word sounds similar to “glides” or “writhes,” which one might usually associate with snakes. However “rides” suggests that the snake is being carried or floating along, making the snake seem less threatening and more passive. Note however, that the verb “rides” can also mean “to torment, harass, or tease,” which alludes to the snake’s sly nature. This clever word choice on the surface contributes to the jovial tone of the poem, while alluding to the snake’s hidden cunning.

"narrow Fellow..."   (A Narrow Fellow in the Grass)

An internal rhyme is a rhyme created by two or more words in the same line of verse. “narrow Fellow” is an example of an internal rhyme because of the repetition of the “ow” sound at the end of both words. The two words also create what is called a “slant rhyme,” which is a rhyme that forms similar, but not identical, sounds. In this case the slant rhyme is formed by the “rr” and “ll” consonant sounds in the respective words.

"narrow Fellow..."   (A Narrow Fellow in the Grass)

In the opening line, Dickinson cleverly disguises the subject of the poem, a snake. “Narrow” means small in width, and “fellow” is a familiar term for a man or a boy. Using colloquial language like “narrow Fellow” makes the snake seem must less sinister and gives the poem a lighter, more amiable tone that contrasts with the poem’s tense subject matter.

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