There Is No Frigate Like a Book by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson composed poems without titles and used numbers.
In poem number 1263 which can be known by the first line “There is no Frigate like a book”, the poet writes only eight lines to express that reading is vital to fulfilling human souls. Dickinson mainly compares reading to modes of transportation; that when readers and the audience engage in reading they can be taken to distant places with ease. The result is a fulfilled soul, and it is a possibility for everyone, even the poorest people. The diction in this poem leads to similes, an extended metaphor, hyperbole and a reassuring tone to emphasize the importance of reading. The whole poem first consists of two similes to create a strong comparison of the power of reading to transportation; it is able to transport us to different places. The first simile is in the first line of the poem, “There is no frigate like a book.
” This message is that there is nothing that compares to a book but it is compared to a frigate and uses the word “like” to make it a simile. A Frigate is a big boat, and if a book essentially is a frigate, it can take us away just as a boat takes us away to new lands. Then this simile is followed by another simile in the third stanza which equates reading a page of poetry to a courser, which is a light-footed horse. In this way, the simile is also personification because just as a horse prances, as the poem indicates, a poem prances, too. So, reading a page of poetry is just like riding a horse. It can prance across the page and carry people to wider places.
However, the diction “nor any coursers” indicates that reading prancing poetry on a page is even better than riding a great horse. Essentially, these two comparisons show that books are able to carry people to distant places just like boats and horses do but more in a mental rather than a physical way. Then, in lines five through eight, a hyperbole is established and a reassuring tone ends the piece. The lines exaggerate that this reading journey can be taken by the “poorest” person “without oppress of Toll” which means it is inexpensive. The word “Toll” is hyperbole and continues the overall comparison of likening reading to traveling because normally when we travel, we must pay a toll which is a money cost to cross a bridge or other landmark. Therefore, reading it is not as oppressive as a toll.
Oppressive means something that causes discomfort. This is exaggerated that paying tolls cause this discomfort but reading does not. The last lines also indicate that the “Chariot” which is yet another mode of transportation as compared to reading, is cheap to ride but much richer because it “bears the Human Soul.” Something as cheap and as seemingly small as reading, therefore, is hyperbolized as holding not just a person, as a chariot holds, but the person’s entire soul. A soul is believed to be stronger than the physical body of a person as it is regarded as immortal.
Lines five through eight also establish a reassuring tone towards reading. It is needed to reassure the audience that “This Traverse may the poorest take”. The word “may” indicates an option and the word “traverse” means to travel through. Thus, reading is open to all, even the poorest people. To reassure readers means to put them at ease.
Here, any reader, even the poorest who have to be frugal, can afford to take these trips that reading provides. This works really well in the poem to perpetuate the positive message that reading takes us away and anyone can do it. The final comparison is a metaphor at the end when the reading journey is compared to a cheap car that is easily affordable and is actually able to hold a human soul. It further complements the overall extended metaphor comparing books and poetry with crucial things in people’s lives; books are as indispensable as transportation which can help carry us around and sublimate our essence. Ultimately, Dickinson expresses that she wants people to be aware that reading is good nourishment for the mind and promotes the imagination.
Finally, we can absorb as much knowledge as we desire because reading is accessible.