Literature Study GuidesPoems Of Emily Dickinson SelectedThere Is No Frigate Like A Book Summary

Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) | Study Guide

Emily Dickinson

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There is no Frigate like a Book

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Emily Dickinson's poem "There is no Frigate like a Book."

Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) | There is no Frigate like a Book | Summary



This poem, written in Dickinson's usual ballad meter, uses metaphors of travel and transportation to extol the power of literature to take readers on grand mental journeys. No ship can reveal the wonders of the world like a book that takes "us" (readers) to distant lands. Nor are there any horses that can match a page of "prancing Poetry." Even the poorest people may be thus transported without having to pay any toll. Literature—"the Chariot / That bears the Human soul"—is an affordable means of travel.


This poem is another example of what might be classified as a definition poem, such as "Success is counted sweetest." In this case, the speaker defines the power and potential of literature. The central conceit of travel is supported by various images involving transportation on the one hand—"Frigate," "Coursers," "Traverse," "Toll," and "Chariot"—and diction and metonymy of literature on the other—"Book," "Page," and "Poetry"— in both cases with the embellishment of playful alliteration. This is another poem in which Dickinson celebrates the power of literature and the imagination, as she does in "I dwell in Possibility—."

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