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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, through endless summer days, From inns of molten blue. When the landlord 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! Poem 214 F207 I taste a liquor never brewed Of the many poems which Emily sent to Samuel Bowles as the editor of the Springfield Daily Republican before the winter of 1862, the only one which he printed was this poem. It appeared anonymously in the issue of 4 May 1861 under the title The May Wine. On the surface this title seems apt. Emily appears to tell how she is intoxicated by the endless summer days, using, as Whicher puts it, language at its utmost extravagance, fantasy at its furthest reach. The third stanza describes how she is even more intoxicated by late summer when the bees lie drunken and sluggish in the foxgloves petals and the butterflies are nearly dead. In the final stanza she reaches the height of fantasy as she imagines the dwellers in heaven rushing to their windows to look at her as she leans intoxicated against the Sun as a lamppost. But it is possible that Emily being drunk on summer is a metaphor for her being intoxicated by the realisation of her poetic genius, so that the poem would be more properly titled The Wine of Poetry. Dickinson whimsically describes the exhilarating effect of nature. She uses the metaphor of drunkenness or intoxication to express how the beauty of nature elates her. (Intoxication is a common metaphor for powerful attachments or thrilling feelings; for example, "He's drunk with power" or "Sky diving is intoxicating.") Dickinson plays with this metaphor by developing it literally and concretely. Dickinson establishes the drinking metaphor with the first line. Pearl, a precious gem, indicates the value of liquor made under the best of circumstances; her liquor (the beauty of nature) is even more precious. Ladling or dipping into liquor to drink it produces a white foam; color is another reason Dickinson chooses pearl. Her liquor is more precious than Rhine wine, a white wine which is highly regarded. With stanza 2, she tells us, humorously, what she is drunk on--air and dew, which represent nature. (A debauchee is someone corrupted or debased, usually by alcohol.) She is so drunk or "turned on," to use a modern metaphor, that she is staggering. In the last line she starts an image that continues through the third stanza--drinking at an inn. In other words, she is drunk with summer's splendor; the sky is intensely blue or "molten." Can you find any repeated vowel or consonant sounds in this stanza? How long will nature continue to intoxicate her? Stanzas three and four suggest forever. She will "drink" nature until foxgloves stop blooming and when butterflies give up gathering nectar from flowers. She equates nectar, and its positive assocations, with

"drams" (dram: a small drink of liquor). And then? She will "drink" or revel in nature all the more. Part of the humor derives from the fact that nature itself drinks.To express how prodigious her enthusiasm for nature is, she asserts that the angels will shake their "snowy hats" (the clouds), and the saints will rush to see her. A possible implication of referring to saints and seraphs (note the alliteration) is that God approves of her drunkenness. The poem ends with a startling and powerful image: her leaning against the sun, as a drunk might lean against a lamppost. (Dickinson often ends her poems with a powerful image or statement.) Stanzas three and four go through the activities of a day and end with the sun beginning to set.This is a lighthearted, happy, playful, charming, and amusing poem. There are no shadows. It is possible to see in her presenting herself as a drunk a sublimated rebelliousness against society's restrictiveness or sanctimoniousness (a holier-than-thou attitude). Or perhaps you see a hint of Dickinson in a naughty little girl persona, in presenting herself as a "tippler" (one who drinks). The speaker is clearly naive and straightforward.All you have to do in reading this poem is enjoy it and perhaps remember times when you felt this joyful about nature.