Study Guide

A narrow Fellow in the Grass Stanza 3

By Emily Dickinson

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Stanza 3

Lines 9-10

He likes a Boggy Acre -
A Floor to cool for Corn -

  • Now we’re going into Nature Channel mode. 
  • The average snake (according to Emily Dickinson, anyway) really digs marshes, or bogs.
  • “Boggy” is the adjective form of bog, and a bog is a wet, grassy field that isn’t to different from a wet sponge.
  • “Acre” is a unit of measurement for land. It's 4,840 square yards to be precise (as we push up our nerd glasses), but we don't think the speaker is being that specific. The point is that the snake likes to hang out in swampy places.
  • Guess what else? He also likes to hide in cool places, cooler even than the floor of a silo (one of those round towers you see next to barns that are used to store things like corn).
  • Thanks for this habitat update, speaker. It's great info and all, but what's the point? One answer to that question might come from the choice of "He likes."
  • Remember from line 1 how the snake is a "Fellow" who "rides"? Snakes may find suitable habitats that have plentiful prey, but to say that "He likes" these places is to again suggest that this snake has some human qualities, bordering on personification.

Lines 11-12

But when a Boy and Barefoot
I more than once at Noon

  • Now that you’re about halfway through the poem, Dickinson throws us a major curve ball
  • We finally figure out who our speaker is. Shocker! It's a man, or least a male who can remember being a young boy. You see, Shmoopers? This is why we say, time and again, that you can't confuse the "poet" with the "speaker." Sure, lots of poets write from their own personal points of view, but, unless we're missing a major piece of her biography, Emily Dickinson was not one of them. Here, she adopts the point of view of a man, reflecting back on those carefree days of boyhood, when he would walk around without shoes on.
  • This is kind of typical boy behavior, but it's striking that Dickinson feels the need to frame it as such. Why couldn't a girl do this stuff, too?
  • These lines also set us up for a trip to memory-ville. Get ready for a recollection, folks.
  • What else did this boy used to get up to? Well, "more than once," he would at noon… ah! The suspense is killing us. Let's read on.

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