I Bring An Unaccustomed Wine, Emily Dickinson: Summary & Analysis

"I BRING AN UNACCUSTOMED WINE" by Emily Dickinson explores themes of unrequited love, missed opportunities, and the yearning for connection. Through vivid imagery and emotional resonance, the poem portrays the speaker's efforts to offer a gesture of love, only to be met with indifference. The poem delves into the complexities of unreciprocated feelings and the bittersweet nature of longing.


I BRING an unaccustomed wine
To lips long parching, next to mine,
And summon them to drink.
Crackling with fever, they essay;
I turn my brimming eyes away,
And come next hour to look.
The hands still hug the tardy glass;
The lips I would have cooled, alas!
Are so superfluous cold,
I would as soon attempt to warm
The bosoms where the frost has lain
Ages beneath the mould.
Some other thirsty there may be
To whom this would have pointed me
Had it remained to speak.
And so I always bear the cup
If, haply, mine may be the drop
Some pilgrim thirst to slake, —
If, haply, any say to me,
"Unto the little, unto me,"
When I at last awake


"I BRING AN UNACCUSTOMED WINE" portrays the speaker's attempt to offer a gesture of love to someone whose lips are "long parching." The speaker brings a metaphorical "wine" to quench the other person's emotional thirst and summon them to reciprocate. However, the person's response is one of indifference and detachment. Despite the speaker's yearning for a meaningful connection, the other person's coldness leaves the speaker feeling unfulfilled. The poem concludes with the acknowledgment that someone else might appreciate the offering more and that the speaker will continue to offer their love, hoping that someday someone will respond to their advances.

Critical Analysis

The poem opens with the image of the speaker offering an "unaccustomed wine" to someone whose lips are "long parching," indicating a metaphorical offering of emotional nourishment and affection.

The phrase "Crackling with fever" suggests the other person's emotional turmoil and turmoil, hinting at their inner struggle.

The speaker's repeated attempts to connect and the other person's indifference are depicted through the lines "I turn my brimming eyes away, / And come next hour to look." This suggests a cycle of offering and rejection.

The image of the "tardy glass" being held by hands and the notion of lips being "superfluous cold" evoke a sense of detachment and lack of response.

The comparison of attempting to warm the frost-covered bosoms conveys the idea that the other person's emotional coldness has persisted for a long time.

The poem ends with the acknowledgment that the speaker will continue to carry the cup of love, hoping to find someone who appreciates their gesture.


  • Unrequited Love: The poem explores the theme of unrequited love, portraying the speaker's attempt to offer affection and emotional connection to someone who remains emotionally distant.
  • Missed Opportunities: The poem touches on missed opportunities for genuine connection, as the other person fails to respond to the speaker's attempts.
  • Longing and Yearning: The poem conveys the speaker's yearning for emotional reciprocity and a deep connection with the other person.


  • Yearning: The poem conveys the speaker's deep yearning for emotional connection and love.
  • Frustration: The speaker's repeated attempts to reach out and the other person's lack of response evoke a sense of frustration and disappointment.
  • Resignation: The poem's conclusion suggests a sense of resignation as the speaker acknowledges that their gesture might be appreciated by someone else.

Literary Devices

  • Metaphor: The poem employs the metaphor of "bringing wine" to symbolize the speaker's offering of love and emotional connection.
  • Imagery: The poem uses imagery to depict the physical and emotional aspects of the scene, creating a vivid portrayal of the speaker's attempts and the other person's response.

Discussion Question

How does the poem convey the speaker's emotions of unrequited love and the complexity of offering affection to someone who remains emotionally distant?

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