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There is no Frigate like a Book

There is no Frigate like a Book


by Emily Dickinson

There is no Frigate like a Book Theme of Awe and Amazement

This poem isn't about wonder, so much as it expresses wonder. What is the wonderful thing? Why reading, of course. The speaker is amazed and just flat-out wowed by how a simple thing like a book can take us far away – and this sense of awe is also aimed at the power of the human imagination. After all, we are transported by books because we can imagine ourselves in them, and our ability to travel in our minds and souls is what allows us to escape our circumstances, no matter how bad they are, even if just for a little while.    

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. Let's think about the lines "How frugal is the Chariot/ that bears the Human soul" (lines 7-8). This seems to be the most amazing idea to the speaker. What do you think the speaker means by this? What statement does the poem make about the "soul"?
  2. What's so special about reading, anyway? Why is the speaker so amazed by books?
  3. How does the extended metaphor of travel or transportation help communicate the speaker's amazement at the idea of reading? Why do you think she chooses to use such whimsical and fantastical images to express this concept?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

 "There is no Frigate like a Book" is simply a meditation on the act of reading.

"There is no Frigate like a Book" is a broader celebration of the power of the human imagination.

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