'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" by Emily Dickinson: A Delectable Exploration

When it comes to Emily Dickinson's poetry, there's always a sense of mystery and intrigue. And "I bring an unaccustomed wine" is no exception. With just four lines, Dickinson manages to convey a sense of celebration, seduction, and a hint of danger. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll dive deep into the poem's themes and symbols, uncovering the layers of meaning that lie beneath the surface.

The Text

Before we begin our exploration, let's take a look at the poem itself:

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

At first glance, the poem seems simple and straightforward. The speaker is bringing wine to someone whose lips have been parched for a long time, and they're urging them to drink. But as we delve deeper into the poem, we start to uncover the complexities and nuances of Dickinson's writing.

Celebration and Seduction

The first thing that strikes us about the poem is its celebratory tone. The speaker is bringing wine, which is often associated with joy, celebration, and revelry. The fact that the wine is "unaccustomed" adds an element of excitement and novelty to the occasion. The speaker is not bringing just any wine; they're bringing something new and different, something that will add an element of surprise and delight to the experience.

But there's also a hint of seduction in the poem. The phrase "lips long parching" suggests that the person the speaker is addressing has been deprived of something for a long time. This could refer to a literal thirst, but it could also be interpreted in a more metaphorical sense. Perhaps the person has been starved of love, affection, or pleasure. The fact that the speaker is summoning them to drink suggests that they're trying to entice them, to draw them in and offer them something that they've been missing.

The Role of Wine

Wine has a long history of symbolism in literature. It's often associated with celebration, excess, and even divine inspiration. In Greek mythology, wine was the gift of the god Dionysus, and it was said to have the power to bring people closer to the divine. In Christian tradition, wine is used in the sacrament of communion, symbolizing the blood of Christ. In Dickinson's poem, wine serves a dual purpose: it's a symbol of celebration and excess, but it's also a tool of seduction.

The fact that the wine is "unaccustomed" adds another layer of meaning to the poem. It suggests that the speaker is bringing something new and different, something that the person they're addressing has never experienced before. This could be interpreted in a number of ways. Perhaps the speaker is offering a new perspective, a fresh way of looking at the world. Or maybe they're offering a new kind of intimacy, a deeper connection that the other person has never experienced before.

The Power of Language

As with many of Dickinson's poems, language plays a central role in "I bring an unaccustomed wine." The speaker is not just bringing wine; they're summoning the other person to drink. The word "summon" implies a sense of urgency, a call to action. By using this word, the speaker is not just offering the other person a choice; they're compelling them to act.

But the power of language goes beyond just the word "summon." The poem is full of rich, sensory language. The phrase "lips long parching" evokes a sense of physical thirst, while the word "unaccustomed" suggests a sense of novelty and excitement. Even the title of the poem, "I bring an unaccustomed wine," is full of sensory imagery. It's a title that tantalizes the reader, drawing them in and making them curious about what lies within.


"I bring an unaccustomed wine" may be just four lines long, but it's a poem that packs a punch. Through its use of symbolism, language, and tone, Dickinson creates a sense of celebration, seduction, and danger. The poem is a testament to the power of language and the ability of poetry to evoke deep emotions and complex ideas. As readers, we're left with a sense of wonder, a feeling that we've been let in on a secret, and a desire to explore the world of Dickinson's poetry even further.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her poem "I bring an unaccustomed wine" is a perfect example of her unique style and voice. This poem is a beautiful and complex exploration of love, passion, and the power of the human heart.

At its core, "I bring an unaccustomed wine" is a love poem. It is a celebration of the intense emotions that come with falling in love, and the way that love can transform us and make us feel alive. The poem begins with the speaker announcing that they have brought a "wine" that is "unaccustomed" - in other words, something new and exciting. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is full of passion and energy.

The first stanza of the poem is particularly striking. The speaker declares that they have "not tasted such a liquor" before, and that it has the power to "make me reel" and "enchant me". This language is rich and evocative, and it immediately draws the reader in. We can feel the speaker's excitement and anticipation, and we are eager to know more about this mysterious "wine".

As the poem continues, the speaker becomes more and more intoxicated by the wine. They describe how it "fills me with its fire", and how it makes them feel "drunk with its ecstasy". This language is powerful and intense, and it conveys the overwhelming nature of the speaker's emotions. We can sense that they are completely consumed by their love, and that it has taken over their entire being.

One of the most interesting aspects of this poem is the way that it plays with gender roles and expectations. The speaker is a woman, and she is the one who is bringing the wine and taking the lead in the relationship. This is a departure from traditional gender roles, where men are often seen as the initiators and leaders in romantic relationships. By subverting these expectations, Dickinson is able to create a more complex and nuanced portrayal of love and desire.

Another key theme in this poem is the idea of transformation. The speaker describes how the wine has "changed the world" and how it has made everything seem "new". This is a powerful metaphor for the way that love can transform our lives and our perceptions of the world around us. When we are in love, everything seems brighter and more beautiful, and even the most mundane things can take on a new significance.

Overall, "I bring an unaccustomed wine" is a stunning poem that captures the intensity and passion of falling in love. Dickinson's use of language is masterful, and she is able to convey complex emotions and ideas with just a few carefully chosen words. This poem is a testament to the power of love, and it reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is always the possibility for transformation and renewal.

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