Khara Winston Mrs. Kim Carroll DE English 12 Hr/ English 101 12 November 2010 “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed” Poetry Explication Emily Dickinson’s “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed” is a happy and playful poem at its best. This poem compares the effect of the beauty of nature to the effect of alcohol. Most readers do not get the moral of the poem at first, but after reading it a couple of times and evaluating it becomes clear. Emily is simply talking about the exhilarating effect of life and nature. Her being “drunk” is a metaphor for how nature intrigues her.
Emily states “I taste a liquor never brewed, from tankards scooped in pearl (Line 1 & 2). ” The liquor that has never been brewed may be water considering that water is pure. She is drinking the liquor from a tankard which is a large drinking vessel. The tankards are scooped in pearl, a valuable gem. She also says “Not all the vats upon the Rhine; Yield such an alcohol (Line 3 & 4)! ” The pearl-scooped liquor is more valuable and precious than vessels of Rhine, which is a much appreciated white wine. Emily gives praise to the liquor for being so great. Inebriate of air am I, and debauchee of dew, Reeling, through endless summer days, from inns of molten blue (Lines 5-8). ” In these lines, Dickinson is now drunk off of air and dew. Debauchee means to be corrupted. She is saying that as long as summer continues, she will stay drunk. She relates to the sky as the “inns of molten blue. ” In stanza 3, Emily dramatizes that “When landlords turn the drunken bee Out of the foxglove’s door, When butterflies renounce their drams, I shall but drink the more (Lines 9-12)!
She implies that she plans to stay drunk forever. She will keep drinking until the bees stop going to blooming foxgloves and butterflies stop gathering nectar from flowers. Lastly, Dickinson characterizes her enthusiasm for nature. She quotes “Till seraphs swing their snowy hats, and saints to windows run, To see the little tippler Leaning against the sun (Lines 13-16)! Seraphs are angels, and they will swing their snowy hats, which are clouds in the sky to send saint to see her. In her eyes and beliefs, God approves her drunkenness.
When she dies and the saints come, she will be leaning against the sun, drunken with nature, just like a tippler leaning against a pole drunken with liquor. This is a lighthearted, happy, and amusing poem. Filled with symbolism of earth, wind, water, and nature, this poem represents peace and harmony. The entire poem is also an extended metaphor about nature and what it brings. Although Emily’s poem is challenging to understand, it is complex and very intriguing once it is understood. Having a creative mind about life, Dickinson truly knows what it means to be happy.