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Snake

A poem by Emily Dickinson

  • 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.

Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) was born into a distinguished Amherst, Massachusetts, family: Her grandfather was a founder of Amherst College and her father a distinguished attorney and U.S. congressman. A brilliant student, Emily Dickinson entered Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary when she was 17 but withdrew within the first year, possibly because of poor health but possibly also because her refusal to sign an oath professing her Christian faith marked her as an apostate and made life at the seminary uncomfortable. In 1862, Dickinson submitted some of her poetry to the Atlantic Monthly and began corresponding with its editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who admired her work but wished her to revise it so that it was more conventional, which Dickinson refused to do. She published only a few of her poems during her lifetime. Far less Romantic in language and tone and far more modern in sensibility and phrasing than the poetry of other 19th-century American poets, hers is clearly the work of a poetic talent of the highest caliber. “Snake” is believed to have been composed in 1865. The existing manuscript version, to be found in the Belknap Press edition of The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, reads “boy” instead of “child” in line eleven. The version of the poem printed here is in the public domain.

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  • 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.

Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) was born into a distinguished Amherst, Massachusetts, family: Her grandfather was a founder of Amherst College and her father a distinguished attorney and U.S. congressman. A brilliant student, Emily Dickinson entered Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary when she was 17 but withdrew within the first year, possibly because of poor health but possibly also because her refusal to sign an oath professing her Christian faith marked her as an apostate and made life at the seminary uncomfortable. In 1862, Dickinson submitted some of her poetry to the Atlantic Monthly and began corresponding with its editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who admired her work but wished her to revise it so that it was more conventional, which Dickinson refused to do. She published only a few of her poems during her lifetime. Far less Romantic in language and tone and far more modern in sensibility and phrasing than the poetry of other 19th-century American poets, hers is clearly the work of a poetic talent of the highest caliber. “Snake” is believed to have been composed in 1865. The existing manuscript version, to be found in the Belknap Press edition of The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, reads “boy” instead of “child” in line eleven. The version of the poem printed here is in the public domain.

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1

perfect!!!

April 18, 2012

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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