Study Guide

I taste a liquor never brewed Man and the Natural World

By Emily Dickinson

Man and the Natural World

Nature is the real star of "I taste a liquor never brewed," no matter how many times Dickinson reminds us of her (nonexistent) drinking habit. Ultimately, the poem is an extended metaphor for the beauty of nature. If this poem were a musical, the whole thing would probably just look a lot like the scene in The Sound of Music where Maria sings "The Hills Are Alive". True, sweeping shots of mountains swirling around and around might get dull on a loop (not to mention give us terrible motion sickness), but Dickinson wants us to do more than just run around in the mountains singing. The poem shows us that we are somewhat separate from nature because we can break the rules that govern "natural" things like bees and butterflies, but we are still a part of the bigger picture and can still be deeply affected by the natural world. Dickinson wants us to connect with nature, not just look at it.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Does it matter that the liquor is brewed or unbrewed when it comes to the representation of nature in the poem?
  2. Is Dickinson's choice of insects significant?
  3. Why are the angels and saints so interested in seeing this spectacle?

Chew on This

It's summertime and the livin' is easy. The speaker probably wouldn't be nearly as inebriated on a winter's day as she is on the summer day that she describes in the poem.

Is she for real? The hyperbole in the poem makes it difficult to determine whether Dickinson is being serious about her topic or if she's poking fun at those who would write like this sincerely.

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