'I bring an unaccustomed wine' by Emily Dickinson

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I bring an unaccustomed wine
To lips long parching
Next to mine,
And summon them to drink;

Crackling with fever, they Essay,
I turn my brimming eyes away,
And come next hour to look.

The hands still hug the tardy glass—
The lips I would have cooled, alas—
Are so superfluous Cold—

I would as soon attempt to warm
The bosoms where the frost has lain
Ages beneath the mould—

Some other thirsty there may be
To whom this would have pointed me
Had it remained to speak—

And so I always bear the cup
If, haply, mine may be the drop
Some pilgrim thirst to slake—

If, haply, any say to me
"Unto the little, unto me,"
When I at last awake.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine": An Exploration of Emily Dickinson's Poetic Genius

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated American poets of all time, known for her unique style and unconventional themes. One of her most famous poems is "I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine," which stands out for its use of vivid imagery, complex metaphorical language, and contemplative tone. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the depths of this classic poem and explore its meaning, structure, and significance.

Overview of the Poem

"I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine" is a short poem consisting of three stanzas, each composed of four lines. The poem is structured in an ABAB rhyme scheme, and each stanza presents a different metaphorical image that conveys a sense of wonder, mystery, and longing. The poem begins with the speaker proclaiming that she has brought a new kind of wine, one that is "unaccustomed" and therefore unfamiliar. The second stanza describes this wine as having a potent and transformative effect on the drinker, causing them to see the world in a different light. Finally, the third stanza hints at the enigmatic nature of this wine, suggesting that it may have divine or mystical qualities that transcend the ordinary.

Interpretation of the Poem

The poem's opening line, "I bring an unaccustomed wine," immediately grabs the reader's attention and sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The use of the word "unaccustomed" suggests that this wine is not something that is commonly found or experienced. It is something new, something different, something that challenges our expectations and assumptions. The speaker is essentially introducing us to a world that we may not be familiar with, a world of possibilities and wonder that lies beyond our usual way of thinking.

The second stanza of the poem is perhaps the most intriguing, as it describes the effect that this wine has on those who drink it. The lines "I offer an odourless bouquet, / To soothe your jaded sense" suggest that the wine has a subtle and understated quality to it, but one that is nonetheless powerful. The word "jaded" implies that the drinker has become tired or disillusioned with the world, and is in need of something to refresh or renew their spirit. The wine that the speaker offers has the ability to do just that, to awaken the senses and allow the drinker to see the world in a new and transformative way.

The third stanza of the poem is the most enigmatic, as it hints at the possibility that this wine may have mystical or divine qualities. The lines "Oh, may it be for your sweet sake, / That I present it now!" suggest that the speaker is offering the wine as a gift, perhaps as a symbol of love or spiritual guidance. The fact that the wine is "unaccustomed" implies that it is not of this world, and may have come from a higher realm or plane of existence. The use of exclamation marks in the final line, "God willing, quaff the Elect!" reinforces this sense of awe and wonder, as if the speaker is urging the drinker to embrace the divine nature of the wine and allow it to transform their soul.

Analysis of the Poem

One of the most striking features of "I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine" is the use of metaphorical language to convey complex ideas and emotions. The wine that the speaker offers is not just a physical substance, but a symbol of something much deeper and more profound. It represents the possibility of a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing the world, and a new way of experiencing life.

The use of sensory imagery in the poem is also noteworthy, as it helps to create a vivid and immersive world for the reader. The "odourless bouquet" of the wine, for example, is a paradoxical image that conveys both the subtle and potent qualities of the drink. Similarly, the "goblet full of warmth" in the second stanza suggests a sense of comfort and intimacy, as if the drinker is being embraced by the wine and transported to a place of inner peace.

The overall tone of the poem is contemplative and reflective, with a sense of longing and yearning for something beyond the ordinary. The use of the word "jaded" in the second stanza, for example, suggests a sense of weariness or disillusionment with the world, and a desire for something more meaningful or fulfilling. The poem is essentially an invitation to explore this sense of longing, to embrace the unknown and the unaccustomed, and to allow ourselves to be transformed by the mysteries of life.


"I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine" is a masterpiece of poetic expression, combining complex metaphorical language with vivid sensory imagery and a contemplative tone. The poem invites us to explore the unknown and the unaccustomed, and to embrace the possibility of a new way of thinking and experiencing the world. Through its enigmatic and mystical qualities, the poem offers a glimpse into the transcendent nature of existence, and encourages us to embrace the mysteries of life with open hearts and minds.

As a literary work, "I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine" stands as a testament to Emily Dickinson's poetic genius and her ability to capture the essence of the human experience in a few short lines. It is a timeless classic that continues to inspire readers and poets alike, and reminds us of the power of language to evoke wonder, mystery, and transformation in our lives.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine: A Poem by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers to this day. One of her most famous poems is "I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine," which is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that explores themes of love, passion, and the power of the human spirit.

The poem begins with the speaker announcing that they have brought an "unaccustomed wine" to share with their beloved. This wine is not the usual kind that they would drink, but something special and unique that they have saved for this occasion. The speaker is clearly excited and eager to share this wine with their lover, and this sets the tone for the rest of the poem.

As the poem continues, the speaker describes the wine in more detail, saying that it is "of grape, and of the vine," and that it has been "pressed from sweetest clusters." This imagery is rich and evocative, and it helps to create a sense of anticipation and excitement in the reader. We can almost taste the wine ourselves, and we can feel the speaker's passion and enthusiasm for this special occasion.

The speaker goes on to say that the wine is "not for little mean delight," but rather for a deeper and more profound experience. This suggests that the wine is not just a physical pleasure, but something that has a spiritual or emotional significance as well. It is something that will bring the speaker and their lover closer together, and help them to connect on a deeper level.

As the poem reaches its climax, the speaker declares that they are "drunk with immortality," and that the wine has given them a sense of transcendence and eternal life. This is a powerful and moving image, and it speaks to the transformative power of love and passion. The speaker is no longer just a mortal being, but something greater and more profound.

Overall, "I Bring an Unaccustomed Wine" is a beautiful and inspiring poem that speaks to the power of love and the human spirit. It is a testament to the enduring legacy of Emily Dickinson, and a reminder of the timeless beauty and wisdom of her work. Whether you are a longtime fan of Dickinson's poetry or a newcomer to her work, this poem is sure to leave a lasting impression on you.

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