The Belle of Amherst, on the Other Hand

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Has ever been a favorite. Tightly repressed, and somewhat pursed-lipped, nevertheless, she whispers through the ages poems that have no age. I have no idea how she would vote, and I like it that way.

The Snake
Emily Dickinson

The Snake

            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.

That last stanza is a clencher, and the last line, sheer genius--in fact it inspires the very feeling it describes--a delicious chill, an ominous ringing.

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Thanks for posting this, Mr. Riddle. I never would have found it on my own.


I blogged some of Dickinson's autumnal poetry the past two Sundays.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 14, 2004 7:19 AM.

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