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17 October 2011

Many cross the Rhine -

Many cross the Rhine
In this cup of mine.
Sip old Frankfort air
From my brown Cigar.
                                                  - F107 (1859)  123
Demi channels Emily

I’m liking the mental image of Emily sitting out on her verandah overlooking her garden with a glass of Rhine wine and smoking a fine cigar. Of course, Miss Dickinson doesn’t just huff and puff, she takes the occasional “Sip” from the Cigar. The first two lines also indicate that many others have come by to enjoy the wine from the poet’s cup.
            It’s likely, however, that she has turned what one of her world-traveled friends might say – or had said – into a poem.
            The poem is essentially two rhymed trimeter couplets. The last syllable is dropped, so the lines are catalectic trochaic (emphasis on the first syllable: DA dum) trimeter. The effect of dropping the last syllable is to create two stressed syllables together from the end of one line to the first of the next (e.g., “mine. / Sip”). This is a poem that benefits from being said aloud. All the words and lines work together and the long vowel sounds make it a bit chewy in texture (Rhine, mine, air, brown).


  1. This is such a happy little poem that I love it. It's like a hamster among drunk wolves who mistake it for a dwarf wolf.

    1. Your image makes me happy! Now that I re-read the poem I think there must be some image or riddle or something that I'm missing. But, like you, it just fits as is.

    2. It’s profoundly deep. So deep the great Wallace Stevens wrote one of his most famous and extraordinary poems about it.

    3. I"d love to look up the Wallace Stevens poem!!!

  2. During the 19th century, the Rhine Valley and nearby Frankfort excelled in making wine and rolling fragrant cigars.

    In F7, ‘Summer for thee’, ED offered to row Charon’s boat across the river of death, Styx, to carry anemone blossoms to a dead friend. Here, in F107, ‘Many cross the Rhine’, ED invites readers to cross the river of life, Rhine River, in her cup (of poetry) to sip old Frankfort air (aroma of eternity) from her brown cigar (transporting fragrance).

  3. Being conscious environmentally, i enjoyed this mental picture on mental travel