Thursday, January 20, 2011

I tasted a liquor never brewed.

Title: The I Taste A Liquor Never Brewed
Author : Emily Dickinson [More Titles by Dickinson ]

I taste a liquor never brewed ,
From tankards(large cup handled) scooped in pearl ;
Not all the vats(tanks) upon the Rhine(river)
Yield such an alcohol !
Inebriate (nashe me tunn)of air am I ,
And debauchee (addiction of sensual pleasures)of dew ,
Reeling , through endless summer days ,
From inns of molten blue .
When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove' s door,
When butterflies renounce(volunteerely give)their drams[1/8 weight],
I shall but drink the more!
Till seraphs(archangel) swing their snowy hats ,
And saints to windows run ,
To see the little tippler(drink alcohol)
Leaning against the sun!

The speaker in Emily Dickinson ’s “ I taste a liquor never
brewed ” is describing a mystical state that she experiences
through her soul awareness ; the state is so overwhelmingly
uplifting that she feels as if she had become intoxicated by
drinking alcohol . But there is vast difference between her
spiritual intoxication and the literal , physical intoxication of
drinking an inebriating beverage .
The poem consists of four four- line stanzas. The second
and fourth lines in each stanza rime , with the first rime
pair “ Pearl ” and “Alcohol ” being near or slant rime . The
poem is # 214 in Thomas H. Johnson ’ s The Complete
Poems of Emily Dickinson .
First Stanza – “ I taste a liquor never brewed ”
In the first stanza, the speaker begins the extended
alcohol / intoxication metaphor by claiming that she
experiences a state of awareness that she has rarely , if
ever , heard described before. At this point, she likens this
experience to being drunk , but the “ liquor ” that made her
drunk is not “ brewed ”; in other words, her intoxication is
not caused by the physical ingestion of a drink .
The next line, “From Tankards scooped in Pearl , ” describes
the cup from which the speaker has drunk . Again she must
resort to metaphor to express where this feeling comes
from, because the experience is from the soul , or spiritual
level of being , which is ineffable and cannot be described
exactly in words, but can only be experienced. So when
she claims that the tankards or large mugs are “ scooped in
Pearl , ” she places them outside physical reality just as she
has done when she said she “ taste [ s ] a liquor never
brewed .”
Second Stanza – “ Inebriate of Air – am I –”
Even though her state of mind is ineffable , she continues to
dramatize the feeling by continuing to liken it to natural
experiences ; thus , she claims she is simply drunk on air ,
merely breathing makes her feel inebriated . And even the
“ Dew ” makes her feel drunk . And the “ endless summer
days ” make her feel as though she has been imbibing at
“ Inns of Molten Blue . ” It ’s as if the sky was one huge
tavern from which the liquor flowed, and after she had
drunk her fill, she goes “ reeling” from the intoxication
through those “ endless summer days .”
Third Stanza – “ When ‘ Landlords ’ turn the drunken
Bee ”
Next, the speaker likens the bees and butterflies to fellow
drinkers , whom she will outdrink . After the flower , from
which the bee is imbibing, closes up and the bee has to
leave or be trapped , and after the butterflies have had their
fill of securing nectar from the flowers, the speaker will be
able to continue drinking her soul - intoxication , because it
is not physical and, therefore , has no limit .
Fourth Stanza – “ Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats
In the final stanza , the speaker reveals when she will have
to stop drinking her special intoxicating beverage , and that
time is never . The last line in stanza three claimed , “ I shall
but drink the more !” And although the sentence seems to
end, the idea continues in the next stanza with “ Till ”— I
shall continue drinking until the highest order of angels
remove their “ snowy Hats , ” and saints hurry to the
windows to watch me “ Leaning against the – Sun –“; and
these events will never take place : seraphs do not wear
hats , and saints would hardly be interested in peering
through windows to observe a “ little tippler . ”
The poem , in the Johnson version , ends with a dash –
indicating further that the speaker never has to stop her
drinking , as those drinking the literal alcohol must .

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