The Schmooze

A Word That Contains Its Opposite

This piece is crossposted from The Best American Poetry, where poet Eve Grubin is guest blogging this week. Read Grubin’s previous posts here, here and here, and her poetry on The Arty Semite here.

The speaker in Emily Dickinson’s poem, “A narrow fellow in the grass,” describes her response each time she meets a snake:

…never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

Are these last lines from Dickinson’s poem absorbing the aftershock of Eve’s encounter with the snake? What essential snake quality tightens our breathing, creating a sense of fright to our very bones? Even when the snake is not fatally threatening, its presence can be daunting on a deep psychological level.

“The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

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A Word That Contains Its Opposite

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