Identify the metaphors in "I taste a liquor never brewed—." For each metaphor, what is being compared to what? What feeling or idea is being expressed by this comparison?
This poem is an example of an extended metaphor of drunkenness. Emily Dickinson is comparing her experience of mystic exaltation with the intoxication caused by drinking alcohol. She feels enraptured not by liquor but by the fresh “air” and the morning “dew” of summer days. Thus, the main idea expressed here is that the delight which the splendid nature offers is far more intense and sweeter than that derived from any alcoholic drinks.
Dickinson finds nature deeply fascinating. To her, experiencing nature is far more exhilarating and thrilling than getting intoxicated by any fine liquor:
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!
In the second stanza, Dickinson says it is not alcohol but the natural beauty of a summer day that makes her tipsy. She is drunk on "air" and "dew":
Inebriate of air – am I –
And Debauchee of Dew –
Reeling – thro' endless summer days –
From inns of molten Blue –
To reel is to move about in a staggering or unsteady manner, especially when one is drunk. Having drunk to excess, she would reel "from inns of molten Blue." "Molten Blue" is being referred to the clear blue sky in a summer day. She would stay drunk constantly as the inns under the blue sky would never be out of their mystical liquor.
Dickinson is not alone whom the magnificent nature intoxicates; bees and butterflies too become tipsy drawing nectar from fragrant flowers. But even when they would stop gathering nectar, she would continue getting drunk on the nature's beauty. So, we see how the metaphor of drinking is carried to the third stanza as well.
In the fourth and final stanza, Dickinson refers herself as "the little Tippler." A tippler is a habitual drinker. As to how long the poet will continue drinking the mystical liquor, she says,
Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats –
And Saints – to windows run –
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the – Sun!
A seraph is an angelic being, a member of the highest order of angels in the celestial hierarchies. The mention of seraphs and saints add a mystical and spiritual undertone to the poem. Dickinson might be implying that she would continue to be inebriated until she dies and her soul rises above and is greeted by the seraphs. Even the saints would run to their windows to get a glimpse of this "little tippler" who experienced sublime joy in nature.
Thus, we see that the metaphor of drinking is intricately and exquisitely weaved through the poem, "I taste a liquor never brewed."
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