There is no Frigate like a Book

Emily Dickinson

‘There is no Frigate like a Book’ by Emily Dickinson focuses on how joyful reading can be. The speaker compares reading to exploring and emphasizes its elements of escapism.


Emily Dickinson

Nationality: American

Emily Dickinson redefined American poetry with unique line breaks and unexpected rhymes.

Notable works include 'Because I could not stop for Death' and 'Hope is the Thing with Feathers.' 

Key Poem Information

Central Message: Books can transport you anywhere and any time

Themes: Journey

Speaker: Someone who loves books

Emotions Evoked: Enjoyment, Excitement

Poetic Form: Block Form

Time Period: 19th Century

Books can do everything, the speaker suggests in this short poem. Only open one, and you'll find yourself on an unbeatable journey.

There is no Frigate like a Book’ is the title poem of a short book of poems that Dickinson published with young children in mind. The poems are illustrated with images that connect to the three poems in the volume. The other two poems are titled: He ate and drank the precious wordsand A Drop fell on the Apple Tree’. 

There is no Frigate like a Book
Emily Dickinson

There is no Frigate like a BookTo take us Lands awayNor any Coursers like a PageOf prancing Poetry –This Traverse may the poorest takeWithout oppress of Toll –How frugal is the ChariotThat bears the Human Soul –

Explore There is no Frigate like a Book

There is no Frigate like a Book by Emily Dickinson


‘There is no Frigate like a Book’ by Emily Dickinson is a short poem that addresses the pleasures and accessibility of reading. 

The light-hearted tone of this charming piece of poetry engages the reader on themes of escape, adventure, and reading. She addresses the ease with which all people can find and explore books by using a metaphor that compares reading, favorably, to traveling. She uses several comparisons that argue that books are better modes of transportation, cheaper and farther reaching than any real road could be. 


There is no Frigate like a Book’ by Emily Dickinson is an eight-line poem that separated out into sets of four lines, known as quatrains. This particular poem, as are many of Dickinson’s poems, is written in ballad stanzas. These stanzas are reminiscent of church hymns. They follow a rhyme scheme of ABCB and use iambic tetrameter. Iambic tetrameter refers to the number of syllables, or beats, per line and where the stresses fall. One metrical foot, or set of two beats, in this poem, is made up of one unstressed and one stressed beat. There are a total of four “feet” per line. 

Literary Devices

Dickinson makes use of several literary devices in ‘There is no Frigate like a Book’. These include but are not limited to alliteration, enjambment, and metaphor. The latter is the most important by far. Within the poem, Dickinson creates several metaphors that help a reader connect the world of reading to that of traveling. Dickinson argues that traveling through literature is far more affordable, fun, and exciting than traveling on the road. 

Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same sound. For example, “Page” and “Poetry” in lines three and four of the first quatrain and “Traverse” and “take” in line one of the second stanza. Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. For example, the transition between lines one and two as well as three and four of the first quatrain. 

Detailed Analysis

Lines 1-4

There is no Frigate like a Book

To take us Lands away,

Nor any Coursers like a Page

Of prancing Poetry –  

In the first line of ‘There is no Frigate like a Book,’ the speaker begins with the line that came to be used as the title of the poem. This was the case with most of Dickinson’s poems. She left the majority of them untitled and most are known by their first like and/or a number. The line compares a “Frigate,” or a large ship to a “Book”. 

A reader can intuit from just this first line what the speaker believes about the power of Books. They can, like large ships, take one to new places. They allow a reader to escape their normal, mundane world and visit new ones. It is also important to note that the speaker says that there is “no Frigate like a Book”. This means that she sees Books as being far superior to all ships. They are even better at letting one escape their day to day life than a ship.

A similar comparison is crafted in the third and fourth lines. Here, the speaker compares a Book to a “courser” or a horse. This kind of horse is high energy, ready, and able to run. It can physically take one new location but “a Page” is even better at this task. It is revealed in the fourth line that the speaker is interested in Books of poetry rather than novels or works of non-fiction. She uses personification to describe the pages of a Book of poetry as “prancing”. This connects back to the image of the horse in like three. 

Lines 5-8 

This Traverse may the poorest take

Without oppress of Toll –

How frugal is the Chariot

That bears a Human soul.

In the second stanza of ‘There is no Frigate like a Book,’ the speaker uses a metaphor that places reading above “Travers[ing]” or traveling. It is accessible even to the “poorest”. One can find and read Books without paying a “Toll” such as that one would find along the road. 

The affordability of reading, as a reason to love it, is continued in the third line of this stanza. The speaker says, through an additional metaphor, that it is “frugal” or cheap to take a ride through literature. Books are the “Chariot” that “bears the Human soul”. This metaphor has possible mythological and religious allusions. Dickinson might be considering the path of the human soul from birth to death and/or the ride that one takes away from their everyday life into the unknown. 

Get More with Poetry+

Upgrade to Poetry+ and get unlimited access to exclusive content, including:

Printable Poem Guides

Covering every poem on Poem Analysis (all 4,171 and counting).

Printable PDF Resources

Covering Poets, Rhyme Schemes, Movements, Meter, and more.

Ad-Free Experience

Enjoy poetry without adverts.

Talk with Poetry Experts

Comment about any poem and have experts answer.

Tooltip Definitions

Get tooltip definitions throughout Poem Analysis on 879 terms.

Premium Newsletter

Stay up to date with all things poetry.

Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.

Join the Poetry Chatter and Comment

Exclusive to Poetry+ Members

Join Conversations

Share your thoughts and be part of engaging discussions.

Expert Replies

Get personalized insights from our Qualified Poetry Experts.

Connect with Poetry Lovers

Build connections with like-minded individuals.

Sign up to Poetry+
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Got a question about the poem? Ask an expert.x

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry, straight to your inbox

Start Your Perfect Poetry Journey

The Best-Kept Secrets of Poetry

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry ever straight to your inbox

Share to...