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I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed -- Emily Dickinson

Guest poem sent in by Aseem
(Poem #1743) I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed
 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 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
Just a quick response to Zen's tea poem [Poem #1743] (which, incidentally, I
have absolutely no memory of ever sending her). Figured if we were doing
poems about drinking and beverages more generally (I sense a theme coming on
- Martin / Thomas?) we can't do without including this little marvel of a

Today's poem is not, emphatically, one of Dickinson's best. Some of the
lines border on trite and the overall effect is of something light and
harmless, the intense power that I love Dickinson for is missing. But it's
precisely this frothiness that makes this poem such a delightful read.
Poetry really doesn't get sweeter and happier than this - to read these 16
lines is to experience the very giddiness that Dickinson is trying to
describe. There are some exquisite phrases here "Inebriate of air am I / and
debauchee of dew" and "inns of molten blue" and Dickinson's quicksilver
lines create a sense of footsteps dancing lightly through across the page
which is simply exquisite.

This is a poem one could truly get drunk on.


Other suggested reading on minstrels:

John Agard's Coffee in Heaven [Poem #1071]
(another poem we owe to Zen - you're really obsessed, aren't you?)
Vikram Seth's Sit [Poem #966]
Harold Monro's Milk for the Cat [Poem #727]
Rumi's The Tavern [Poem #514]
Harivansh Rai Bacchan's Madhusala [Poem #72]
Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat (extract) [Poem #162]

56 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Joe Hatcher said...

I was surprised to see this poem. I love the stanza that begins, "Inebriate of air am I", but never liked the rest of it. I memorized this one stanza immediately, as I've always felt that it captured the feeling of a beautiful, Summer day and its effect upon one's spirits.

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sildenafil said...

This is interesting that someone making a poem related to alcohol because that's something not common so that's goos because that's what the person felt in the moment.m10m

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