Study Guide

A narrow Fellow in the Grass Tough-o-Meter

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(6) Tree Line

The word order (a.k.a. syntax) of the poem is very confusing at times, but this is how Dickinson can squeeze multiple meanings out of words and phrases. Most of the lines break down into short sentences without helpful punctuation (aside from those cryptic dashes) to guide the reader. Another difficult aspect of the poem is how the subject matter shifts without much warning.

All these different aspects can add up to make “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” a frustrating read. However, the payoff is that you can re-read it five times and get a different interpretation, depending on what sticks out to you at the moment. Now, what else can you say that about, but art? In a world obsessed with "facts," talking points, and clear brand messaging, we're relieved, frankly, that complex, open-ended work like this still exists. Rather than hitting you over the head with is central "theme" over and over again, this poem—like all good poems—invites you in, sits you down, and lets you just… be still and think for a moment. Heck, take two!

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