The poem that I chose to examine for this poetry analysis is, There’s No Frigate like a Book, by the great poet Emily Dickinson. As an individual who is incredibly passionate about books, with a love of reading from a young age, the title of the poem was enough to draw me in as my pick for this assignment. Additionally, the excellent works of Emily Dickinson have rarely disappointed me. These two reasons were behind my decision to pick the poem for this analysis.
Dickinson’s poem has a unique theme that is centered around the experience of one who reads books and the environment or sensation that is present in the joy of reading a good book. The theme of the poem compares the reading experience to go beyond other moments in life that would be found exhilarating to most people. For example, the word frigate, a large ship is what a book is compared to. To further expand on this, she is stating that the experience of reading is much like sailing off to anyplace in the world when one sits and delves into a book. I cannot say that a solid theme of an actual location or setting is displayed, but strong symbolism make me think of the ocean as well as riding away in an expansive field on a horse. I imagined I liberating freedom with each line of the stanza. If I had to label the poem of having any theme, it would be freedom, freedom of imagination as one reads a beautiful novel.
Very specific lines in the poem show that the author has an intention of taking the reader on a trip or a mode of travel that is declared repeatedly. The underlying message of travel and freedom are evident in line, such as “There is no Frigate like a book, to take us lands away” (Dickenson). This line is fairly self-explanatory that if you know the meaning of the frigate, which is not common. The next line that I believe is worth mentioning is, “This Traverse may the poorest take, without oppress of Toll” (Dickenson). This is the statement where Dickenson’s informs the reader that books are a costless experience that even the poor can partake in; the experience of reading is limited to no one.
The sing song like style of the poem, called a ballad stanza, sets a playful and happy tone to the poem. It seems quite appropriate because of the sense of joy that a book lover feels as he or she is in the midst of reading a great novel that they cannot put down. Dickenson captures the thrill and freedom of reading through the development of this light and happy poem that is so simple yet beautifully filled with symbolic meaning.
The poem could be narrated by almost any individual who is passionate about reading. I tend to imagine a female voice, but that is most likely because I know that the poet is a female. However, I could also imagine that someone who is picking up a book to go on the mental and emotional journey that is likely to occur for one who becomes immersed in the story he or she is reading. Not much identity or clarity is provided by Dickenson in the poem, but the adoration of reading is obvious to anyone who sits and analysis the poem. One can understand the fulfillment the poet must feel when involved in reading a book he or she enjoys. It is completely obvious how Emily Dickenson feels about reading from the way she delivers this poem. The passion that is felt as you read and visualize the journey that is possible in a book is clearly the entire focal point of the piece. If a person who is not familiar with the extraordinary sensations present when enraptured in a book, then he or she may lack appreciation for the poem and find it odd or awkward. But as an individual who has loved reading since I was a child, I completely understand the message the poet is delivering in this poem.
Another, more simple and intimate assumption that I gathered as I read this poem was that maybe Emily Dickenson was an empathetic woman who found the lives of the poor and down trodden an unfortunate problem. The sense that equality was possible through a book is what came to mind when she mentions the poor who are able to enjoy this luxury without needing to find the money to pay for it. It makes me wonder more about her and her position in life and among others, I wonder if she was known to provide access of reading materials or books to the poor. I sensed all these things as I read those lines in the poem.
In conclusion, the poem, There’s No Frigate like a Book, delivered so much in just a short and simple format. Without excessive words or descriptions, Dickenson’s was capable of making a strong statement for her love of books that connected to fellow book lovers. At least it did with me. The poem may just have become one of my favorites after going through the analysis for this assignment.
Dickenson, Emily. "There is No Frigate like a book". Pearson CMG. Online. April 20, 2015. <
http://media.pearsoncmg.com/pcp/pcp_97542_lit_lu/e book/media/dickinson_frigate.swf >
Kennedy, X.J, Giola, Dana. Literature : an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing.
12th ed. Longman Publishing Group. 2011.