Emily Dickinson's "We – Bee and I – live by the quaffing" (Fr244) is an alcohol poem that tells a humorous, but paradoxical tale of seduction and volition; it bears a resemblance to the nineteenth-century drunkard narratives that featured young men seduced by their peers to a life of drinking in saloons, inns, or bars. These narratives regularly appeared in the magazines and newspapers subscribed to by the Dickinson family, including Harper's Monthly, the Atlantic Monthly, and Scribner's Monthly, and, together with the drunkard reportages of the Springfield Republican, represented the drinker as someone who lost his rights to freedom when seduced by alcohol. Dickinson sympathizes with the socially marginalized drunkard, so much so that in the poem, "We – Bee and I –," she playfully affords the speaker a companion to drink with and a space to drink in that acts as substitution for a traditional saloon; namely, nature. In this, and other alcohol-related poems, nature operates as a space of seduction that affords the drunkard the opportunity, and right, to reconcile his volitional freedom, as a habitual drinker, with the inexorable attraction of alcohol.


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