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There is no Frigate like a Book

There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll How frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human soul.
Summary This poem's only got one message: reading is awesome! Seriously. The poem explains the precise awesomeness of reading by comparing a book to various modes of transportation. This string of comparisons reminds us of the true joy of reading the fact that it lets us hitch rides with all kinds of different characters and travel far and wide with them in our imaginations, without even paying a cent. Stanza 1 Summary Lines 1-2

There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away


To start us off, the speaker compares a book to a frigate, or a big ship. What do ships do? They take us places. These lines say that a book is even better than a frigate. A book is like the best boat ever, which carries us away to far off lands.

Lines 3-4

Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry

Here the speaker compares a book (in this case, a book of poetry) to a highspirited, light-footed horse ("courser" is an old-timey word for a knight's horse). And guess what? She says that reading is even better than taking a ride on this great horse. Line 4 refers to poetry as "prancing," which cleverly plays upon the terms commonly used to talk about poetic meter, like "metrical foot" for more on this concept, check out the "Form and Meter" section.

Stanza 2 Summary Lines 5-6

This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll

Books may cost money, but reading them is free. So, anyone with access to books is able to travel in these magical bookmobiles along the superhighways of the imagination. The speaker expresses this simple idea by saying that even the poorest person can take this kind of "Traverse," or journey, without ever being "oppressed" by having to stop at a tollbooth and pay.

Lines 7-8

How frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human soul.

"Frugal" isn't a word we use that often anymore, since most of you probably don't remember the old-school Eighties cooking show The Frugal Gourmet. Basically, it just means "inexpensive," or "affordable." Similarly, we don't go around bragging about our new "Chariots" to our friends instead, we call them "cars." (Well, technically, a chariot is drawn by a horse, but you get the point.) So, just replace these old-fashioned words, and the meaning of these lines becomes clearer right away: dude, the car that can carry the human soul around is dirt cheap!
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The speaker here expresses wonder at the fact that reading can carry your "soul" or imagination on a kind of joyride, and it's totally, one hundred percent free.

. Symbol Analysis This whole poem is kind of a growing pile of transportation-related metaphorical language. The central idea is a simple one: books carry us places so do boats, horses, roads, and chariots.

Line 1-2: The poem begins with a simile comparing a book to a frigate, otherwise known as a ship.

Line 3: We immediately get another transportation-related simile, this time comparing the written page to a "courser," or a horse. Line 4: Here the speaker follows up on line 3's comparison of the page of poetry to a horse with a touch of personification, when she refers to "prancing Poetry." We know that poetry can't really prance, though animals and people can. This is also a sly play on words. "Prancing" also makes us think of the metrical "feet" that make up a poetic line Line 5-8: Next, we get an extended metaphor that starts with the idea of a toll road. The "Traverse," or journey, that the reader takes doesn't cost anything, and thus is "Without oppress of Toll" (line 6). For this reason, the "chariot" that carries us on these imaginary voyages is "frugal," or cheap

Rhyme, Form & Meter


Ballad Stanza Dickinson's poems, for the most part, are written in what's referred to as "ballad stanza," which means that they have a singsong, hymn-like quality. Technically ballad stanza is quatrains (four line stanza) of alternating iambic(unstressed, stressed) tetrameter (four feet on a line )and trimeter(three feet on a line) in an ABCB rhyme scheme.

What does this mean? Well, first of all, let's tackle the word "quatrain." That just means a stanza made up of four lines. You probably noticed that "There is no Frigate like a Book" has two quatrains. Moving right along, let's talk about iambic meter. This poem has the rhythmic, da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM feeling of an iambic meter. An "iamb," a popular kind of metrical "foot" (or unit) is made up of two syllables, one unstressed (da), and the other stressed (DUM). It might help to think of the clever reference to "prancing Poetry" in line 4, and imagine a horse briskly trotting along to get a feel for this meter. When you put several iambs in a row, you get that two-step rhythm that makes Dickinson so fun and easy to read aloud. Ballad stanza has alternating lines of four and three iambs, thus the names "iambic tetrameter" (tetra = four, like Tetris) and "iambic trimeter" (tri = three, like tricycle). Make sense? No? Yes? Maybe? To be safe, let's try and read aloud together the bold, italicized syllables are the stressed ones. We're also separating the iambs with slashes so you can really see the three- and foursyllable lines. Try to really exaggerate the difference between unstressed and stressed syllables to feel the even beat of these lines: There is | no Frig|-ate like | a Book To take | us Lands | a-way The second and fourth lines of each stanza rhymes (ABCB DEFE). This works out beautifully in the second stanza, where "Toll" and "soul" match up perfectly, but in the first stanza "away" and "Poetry" we have what's called a slant or sight rhyme. That is, we can see that the two words "rhyme" because of their common ending, but it doesn't sound exactly right when you read it out loud. So, those of us who were embarrassedly trying to make "Poetry" sounds like "away" ("Um, Po-e-tray?") can breathe a sigh of relief. This slant rhyme may seem weird, but it's most definitely not an accident. Speaker Point of View Who is the speaker, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him? If you've read any other Dickinson poems, you may be familiar with the mysterious nature of the speaker. We don't get any hints about who or what is telling us about books "There is no Frigate like a Book." There are no clues as to the speaker's gender, age, or characteristics (not even an "I" so we can't even say exactly say that it's a person). The only thing that makes the speaker seem human at all is the pronoun "us" in line 2, which implies that he/she/it is a
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reader, just like we are. It's perhaps best to think about the speaker here as a kind of disembodied voice, making observations about the natural, human joys of reading.

Setting
Where It All Goes Down
The setting here is a kind of fantastical imaginary landscape. It's a pretty spectacular one, populated by magnificent ships sailing away to far-off lands and knights trotting around on prancing horses. However, this poem doesn't actually represent a place, imaginary or no. Instead, it asks us to imagine imagination itself (whoa). That sounds totally confusing and way far out there, but think about it for a minute. The central metaphor of this poem asks us to compare reading a book to traveling to far-away places. The travel that goes on here is imaginary, and the speaker is asking us to summon up the idea of travel in our minds, not a specific voyage.

Themes:
1.Theme of Literature and Writing
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.

2. Theme of Exploration
"There is no Frigate like a Book" reminds us of the sense of unlimited possibility that reading gives us. You may not be physically leaving your cozy armchair when you read, but you're covering miles and miles of new territory in your imagination.

3. Theme of Freedom and Confinement


This poem reminds us that reading can always provide us with a kind of escape, because, no matter how poor we are, it doesn't cost a penny to travel in your
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imagination. Certain phrases in this poem "oppress of Toll," we're looking at you (line 6) suggest that the workaday world we live can be one of limitation and exclusion, but that the world of books doesn't have the same boundaries or requirements, and the soul is free to travel wherever it likes there.

4. Theme of Awe and Amazement


This poem isn't about wonder, so much as it expresses wonder. What is the wonderful thing? Why reading, of course. The speaker is amazed and just flatout wowed by how a simple thing like a book can take us far away and this sense of awe is also aimed at the power of the human imagination. After all, we are transported by books because we can imagine ourselves in them, and our ability to travel in our minds and souls is what allows us to escape our circumstances, no matter how bad they are, even if just for a little while.