"986" and "A Narrow Fellow in the Grass"

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In Emily Dickinson's poem 986 the reader learns about the theme of nature-how nature can be presented as a non-harmful presence until one realizes the opposite is true. Incorporated in this poem are many poetic devices which vary from stanza to stanza. It is important to have a general understanding of the theme and certain poetic devices from a close read of this poem. Dickinson's poem 986 can be referred to as "A Narrow Fellow in the Grass" (not the actual title), which guides readers to a theme based on nature. At first, the speaker experiences nature from a point of view of understanding and friendliness towards the animal presented in the poem. However, by the final quatrain the reader learns of the fear that the creature could bring. The speaker is knowledgeable about this "narrow fellow" which indicates his need for a personified nature that he wants to interact among. The first two stanzas are both quatrains as well as the last two stanzas. In between these two sets of stanzas there is an eight line central stanza. The style of Dickinson's poem is quite unique because of her consistency with lines that can be flipped around and appear the same. "A Narrow Fellow in the Grass" is presented by an adult man and not by Emily Dickinson herself since one can see he is remembering his boyhood experiences. Also, in the poem the speaker directly addresses the audience, "You may have met Him--did you not"(3), which indicates a type of relationship between the reader and the speaker. The poem is referring to a description of an animal: a snake. In the beginning of the poem the reader is able to observe an admiration for the snake from the speaker. Dickinson enables the person who reads the poem to visualize the creature by calling the snake, "A spotted shaft" (6), "Nature's People" (17) and also a "Whiplash" (13). As well as visual images, there is an auditory image. The sound of a hiss in the word "grass" in the poem relates to the sound a snake makes. When a poet uses a consonant like "s" repeatedly, it is known as alliteration. Also, the reiteration of the s sound is seen throughout the poem. For example, "occasionally rides" (2) and "his notice sudden is" (4). In the first two stanzas readers are introduced to a pleasant snake.

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