Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,
Past the houses — past the headlands —
Into deep Eternity —

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem Exultation is the going


  1. frumpo says:

    The wonder of a new thing

  2. Delly says:

    No, the correct line is “Of an inland soul to sea,” not Island. I take this from “Adventures in American Literature,” (c) 1996 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

  3. Maya says:

    Yes, I think the key point of the poem is that there is nothing so heady as the feeling of a FIRST encounter with an experience that expands the self. And that those who are no longer new to a given experience have essentially lost the ability to appreciate its wonder.

  4. Chloe says:

    In my version I have, ‘Of an Island soul to sea’. I think this rather changes the meaning and imagery-does anyone know which is correct?

    this appears to be a somewhat positive poem. She is rejoycing at the fact she ahs taken a risk and left her ‘comfort zone’ to find “divine intoxication” once she ahs taken that risk. Although this appears rational, and based on what we know, the poem is ambiguous and hints at the sublime (like in gothic).

    This life journey is exciting, even though it is presumably towards death. Ending with a dash indicates the poem is unfinished so perhaps she feels she has more life to live.

    Maybe we are all Sailors on a journey.

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