Reading Emily Dickinson’s “I taste a liquor never brewed”

The first ModPo assignment was to write an analysis of Emily Dickinson’s poem: I taste a liquor never brewed

What’s with Emily? Is she drunk? Is she mad?
She speaks in wild hyperbole and runs giddy through the fields.
I’ve checked the cellar and the kegs are all secured.
She says it’s so much more than all vats upon the Rhine.
Perhaps a splinter in the brain?
But she’s not run amok – she’s joyful and exuberant.
Can it be love?
She hints but does not say.
I thought to look into her diary but – no.
These are her words, so let them speak.
And does it really matter?
Her poem is not a cryptogram, it is a lovely burst of words –
Enough effusiveness to make old Walt seem tame.
She’s reeling through endless summer days
from Inns of Molten Blue.

Ah, Emily,
What fire smolders in these inns?
and What’s with the butterflies and bees?
The “landlord”? Are you being coy?
Do you mean those who offer up the foxglove’s trumpet cup to pollinating bees?
And When Butterflies renounce their “drams” you shall but drink the more
I think the quotes give you away.
By ‘drams’, do you mean, the potent ram
who turns the ewe into a dam?
I hear you laugh behind the meaning.

You insist this is no summer high, it will not end –
Till Seraphs swing their snowy hats
and the very saints in heaven – run –
to see the little tippler (Emily), leaning against the — sun (someone?)

But if this be a poem of love, where is the lover?
Dwelling in Possibility?
Or is this a love that cannot be?

[I submitted a standard essay for the class, but I had more fun with this one.]

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