Bring me the sunset in a cup--
Reckon the morning's flagon's up
And say how many Dew--
Tell me how far the morning leaps--
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
Who spun the breadths of blue!
Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin's extasy
Among astonished boughs--
How many trips the Tortoise makes--
How many cups the Bee partakes--
The Debauchee of Dews!
(first two stanzas #140)
This poem is dated by Franklin at 1830, meaning the poet wrote it when she was 29-30 years old. Anyone familiar with classic poetry might mistake it, at first read, for a poem by John Donne. The persona in this poem is demanding, exact and bold. It is a deviation from the circuitous poetry typical of Dickinson, but the strong nature images begin to give her away, along with the common charged Dickinson language: extasy & Debauchee.
This is not the shy doormouse that so many make of Dickinson, nor is it a ghost in white flitting about nature. The speaker in this poem gives a glimpse of a poet who was insatiably curious, always wondering "Why" and "How" at a point in her life when most adults were content with "because." The endless questions, of which above poem is only half, show the child's mind that thirsts and thirsts, craving more than can ever be known. Perhaps there is an imperious tone in the beginning, demanding the sunset in a cup and making use of the conceit. And yet this was Dickinson, who could find a sunset in a cup. Perhaps she is not asking the reader to bring a sunset to her, but challenging her reader to find the sunset in the cup for himself (or herself).