I TASTE a liquor never brewed--
From Tankards scooped in Pearl--
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!

Inebriate of Air--am I--
And debauchee of Dew--
Reeling--thro endless summer days--
From inns of Molten Blue--

When "Landlords" turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove's door--
When Butterflies renounce their "drams"--
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats--
And Saints--to windows run--
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the--Sun--

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


First published in 1897 as The May Wine shortly before the Civil War which was a life-changing event for Emily Dickinson, as it was for most Americans. So much so that it affected her poetry. She had already adopted her terse and careful style of short lyrics, but during the war those lyrics became introspective and more somber.

Arranged in four line stanzas in common verse, alternating iambic tetrameter and trimeter, and there are rhymes of various styles between the second and fourth line of each stanza. Characteristic is the dash replacing all punctuation except the quotation marks and a pair of exclamation points. The children's rhyme style of the poem adds to the naive delight of the poem, and three of the four rhymes are straight rhymes which is uncharacteristic of Dickinson who normally prefers slant rhyme.

The vehicle announces itself at once! Some sort of alcoholic drink and it's metaphorical, the reader knows, because it's never been brewed, thus is not literal. However, it's farther along in the poem that one espies what experience is intoxicating. Aha! the reader discovers that the tenor might be summed up as joy in nature. The metaphor conveys an experience which would otherwise be hard to name. In fact, if this were not the case, what excuse would Emily have for using metaphor?

With her capricious bee as the poet writer she gives metaphor upon no, within metaphor or perhaps both, to "drunk on beauty". Liquor, likened to precious gems these pearls as bubbles formed, atop beauty that is shining and clear even more than that highly regarded white wine. A debauchee staggering with summer's splendor under the sky of molton blue, forever she will tipple until foxgloves stop blooming and butterflies forgo dolloping nectars; when nature stops drinking of itself.

So excited is this nature that she likens her joy to angels shaking showers of snow from halos this charmer exits the tavern of nature so tippled she must use the sun as her lamppost to lean upon for support. A salacious spin on the invisible and ineffable nature as a sacred site, a church in the world where the experience of a "sacrament of summer days" where occurs the transfiguration of God into world. An ascension of the saints through this to the losing of the conscious mind to the spirit only to pause and lean upon the sun as the lighted lamppost of God, where angels rush in to see.

Sources:

Emily Dickinson: About Her Life And Times:
marktwain.about.com/library/ bl-bio/bl-edickinsonchr.htm

Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:
http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/dickin01.html#14
CST Approved

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