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Comparing Form in Poems About Snakes

            At its most basic level, analyzing poetry typically begins with the immediate categorization by form. As quantitative as a mathematical problem, poems are formulaically distributed into piles with similar meter, rhythm, and rhyme. A poem with three quatrains of alternating rhythm followed by a couplet is categorically deemed an English sonnet. Understanding the assumed criteria of a poem is the key to interpreting the meaning; which often lies in how the poet has chosen to differentiate the anticipated structure. In the same way that adjusting the structure informs the analysis of the poem, the original form reflects content. The poet exercises intent with the style of poetry they choose, because the occasion of the plot should be reflected in this form. The interpreted meaning of a poem gains legitimacy when the relationship between form and mood are complementary. .
             In poetry, the mood is set by the environment in which the poet places the persona. As the plot develops, the perspective of the persona is revealed. Emily Dickinson and D. H. Lawrence both wrote poems with peculiar perspectives about a confrontation with a snake. For two poems written about the same subject matter, their form and occasion set them apart. In "A narrow Fellow in the Grass" by Emily Dickinson, the speaker of the poem is a man reflecting on his childhood and the startling nature of encountering a snake. His reaction to this encounter is transparent in the form Dickinson chooses to tell the persona's story. The subtle variations of form are paired with the occasion of the experience and adjust the readers' understanding of the poem.
             One would expect a snake encounter to be dangerous and hauntingly frightening, but the mood of the poem is strangely contradicting. The persona never hints at fear or anxiety. The first two stanzas are written in alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.

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