I Taste A Liquor Never Brewed || Summary and Analysis

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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 - 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 Tippler
Leaning against the Sun.

The speaker goes ecstatic in the heart of Nature. She is identified with meadows, sky, flowers and butterflies. She tastes a liquor never tasted, that is not prepared by man.
I Taste A Liquor Never Brewed

Summary and Analysis

Introduction:

      The speaker in this poem 'I Taste A Liquor Never Brewed' indulges in natural intoxication. She experiences ecstasy in the lap of nature. She is identified with meadows, sky, flowers and butterflies. She tastes a liquor never brewed, that is, not prepared by man. The poem appeared in the Springfield Republican with its tribute to the hummingbird, an 'inebriate of Air' and 'debauchee of dew'. At times Dickinson was also critical of the virginal life and found herself driven to imagine poetic alternatives.

Summary:

      Stanza I shows that the poetess has never tasted this rare quality of alcohol before in her life, The grammar of the second line is quite ambiguous. The tankards may be places for real alcohol, or they may be her drinking vessels, in which case the pearl would mean preciousness or rarity of the experience. It is gradually known nat a liquor never consumed must be of spiritual origin and not an earthly drink because of its uncommon taste. This alcohol is far superior to ail the vats on the Rhine, a distant romantic place. This shows that she is at home in her limited Surroundings and has no desire to opt for the remote places.

      Stanza II and Stanza III show that she is intoxicated by fragrance of the summer days, which appears to be endless, The formal diction of 'inebriate' and 'debauchee' light-heartedly spiritualizes the intoxication. Dickinson creates the her scene of endless summer in a very few suggestive images like that of 'Molten blue', the bees, flowers, and butterflies being sufficient. The word 'molten' gives us simultaneously the sense of a liquid sky along with the feeling of dissolving into the sky, it is also a symbol for the spiritual liquid being consumed. The simplification imparts to the speaker's revealing a childlike quality in keeping with the poem's quick transformation of the sensuous into the spiritual.

      Stanza III shows that no one can possess the natural things. It is further suggested that when the butterflies have had their fill of nectar, the speaker will go on enjoying nature's spiritual abundance. Her continued drinking shows her insensibility but may also imply the victory of her imagination over the decline of summer.

      Stanza IV shows that she has left for heaven, perhaps byway of sunbeams, and heavenly angels come to the windows of paradise to see this spiritual drunkard leaning against the sun for rest.

Explanation with Reference to Context:

I taste of liquor never brewed-
From Tankards scooped in pearl-
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol.

      The speaker goes ecstatic in the heart of Nature. She is identified with meadows, sky, flowers and butterflies. She tastes a liquor never tasted, that is not prepared by man. The speaker does not suffer from any sense of loneliness in this natural set-up.

      The speaker has never tasted this rare quality of wine in his life. It is rare because it is not man-made and seems to possess spiritual qualities. This wine is preserved in wine containers made up of pearls. This drink is far superior to all the vats on the river Rhine, a remote romantic place. This shows that the speaker is quite at home in this natural set-up and has no desire to visit the distant romantic places.

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

      The speaker feels almost intoxicated in the natural surroundings. He admits that he has taken a rare quality of wine which must have a divine origin. He further realizes that his sense of alienation has come to an end at this point of time in his life.

      The speaker is delighted to find himself in such a natural situation. He is intoxicated by the fragrance of summer days which seems to have no end. The formal diction of 'inebriate' and 'Debauchee of dew' almost spiritualizes the intoxication. Dickinson creates the scene of endless summer by using suggestive images like that of 'molten blue', the bees, and flowers and butterflies. The term molten blue gives the impression of the liquid sky which refers to the spiritual liquid being consumed...

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

      The speaker is intoxicated by the fragrance of the summer days which appears to be endless. It is the spiritual liquid that he is consuming at that point of time in his life. It seems that the entire natural situation is spiritualised. There is a sudden change from the sensuous to the spiritual in this section of the poem.

      The present stanza shows that no one can posses the natural things for ever. It is further suggested that when the butterflies have had their fill of nectar, the speaker will go on enjoying nature's abundance. It is the power of his creative imagination which will keep the scene alive in his mind even during dying phase of summer.

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

      The speaker comes to the conclusion that man cannot be identified with nature for ever. Nature is fascinating during summer but its appeal declines after the end of it. It can only be relived by the power of imagination only.

      The speaker finds himself in heaven by means of the sunbeams. The angels have come to the windows of heaven to see this spiritual drunkard leaning against the sun for rest. The saints are eager to meet this newly arrived spiritual being.

Critically Analysis:

      The element of fantasy in this poem is pronounced; so is the presence of persona who appears persistently in Dickinson's poems. The two combine to give its childish air.

Attitude Toward Nature:

      Emily Dickinson describes an intoxicated identification of self with nature without the alienation that haunts some of her other poems. Unlike most of the nature poems, this one describes not a scene but a state of mind. However, Dickinson's view of nature was neither quiescent nor sentimental. She saw that operations of nature are largely invisible as well as hostile to humanity.

A Parody:

      'I' Taste a liquor never brewed' has been compared to Emerson's 'Bacchus'. It is a parody of the poem Bacchus. The comparison is interesting, but the poems are different in tone, the Emerson poem communicating an intense pathos much more reminiscent of Emily Dickinson in her poems which deal with her dak contemplations of the mysteries of the cosmic process.

Spiritual Experiences:

      The explosive energy of Dickinson's poetry asserted itself from the first valentine and lasted almost to her death. At times she felt drunk with spiritual energy. "Inebriate of Air-am I -\And Debauchee of Dew" but drunk in a way that sent reeling into-the heavens.

      Dickinson's verse cannot be controlled, because it retains the ecstasy that accompanied its creation. What the poet is ecstatic about is not the world as such but the world as transformed by the poetic vision. The liquor she tastes is no actual alcohol but 'a liquor never brewed'. Thus the poet's ecstasy originates more in her own attitude than in anything external. These summer days are 'endless'.

Use of Metaphor:

The metaphor 'Inebriate of Air' is to be exhilarated, excited, overwhelmingly delighted by summer skies. The 'Debauchee of Air' is a fantasy, and it is a delightful image. It is, in fact, an image of delight embodied.

Annotations:

'Liquor' - alcohol \ wine. 'Brewed' - taken \ consumed. 'Tankards' - places of real alcohol \ drinking vessels. yield-imparts \ gives. 'Inebriate' - intoxicated. 'Molten blue' - liquid sky. It can be spiritual liquor being drunk. 'Renounce' - give up. 'Seraphs' - angels. 'Saints' - angels. 'Little Tipplers' - spiritual drunkards. 'Leaning' - bending.

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