A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

(with full acknowledgement of Madeleine Begun Kane (aka Mad Kane) and the poet, Emily Dickinson)

This poem comes about through inspiration gleaned from the talented Mad Kane, whose ‘Mad Kane’s Humour Blog‘ is really very infectious.

Mad Kane reported on her blog that the City of New York was running a poetry competition, the theme of which was to use the first line of an Emily Dickinson poem and complete it with your own words, with a New York theme, of course. Well, my poem uses the first line of the Emily Dickinson poem of the same name, but doesn’t, I’m afraid, stick to the New York theme.

Emily Dickinson’s poem goes as follows:

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him,–did you not,
His notice sudden 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.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

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.

I read Emily Dickinson’s poem, “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” and it took me a little time to work out it is probably about a snake, or similar creature. My little offering sort of ‘has a dialogue’ with her poem in that it concludes with an attempt to catch a snake that is awake (don’t know whether you’ve ever tried that, but I imagine it usually ends up in failure and making a fool of yourself, on your backside; hence the last line of my poem).

(Read the Poem)

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