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Themes

Most importantly, "There is no Frigate like a Book" is a celebration of the power of reading. Reading is great! Reading is fun! Reading is the best way to escape your dull, humdrum life, and go out and "see" the world! In fact, the poem even slyly suggests that reading might be better than actual travel – after all, it immediately announces that "There is no Frigate like a Book" (line 1), suggesting that a book even tops a real ship. This poem ecstatically shows us just how amazing books are, and reminds us that we shouldn't take reading for granted, even though it's just a simple, everyday activity. After all, whether you're just seeking a little escapist vacay, or longing to transport your soul to a distant, mystical realm, books are the only way to get there.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Why do you think Dickinson chooses to use active, lively images (like a sailing ship or a prancing horse) to describe reading, which is a stationary activity?
  2. How does a book take us "Lands away"? What does reading do, according to this poem?
  3. What role do you think imagination plays in this process? How much does the reader participate in these voyages?
  4. What have been your favorite literary adventures?

Chew on This

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

In "There is no Frigate like a Book," Dickinson mainly addresses literature from the perspective of readers, and does not address the role of writers. In doing so, she suggests that it is ultimately the reader who makes a book what it is.

In some ways, Dickinson is making fun of the act of reading.

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