Response #2 Emily Dickenson
657 I dwell in Possibility
This poem reads almost like a sequel to number 613 “They shut me up in Prose” elaborating further on the great divide between the realms of poetry and prose. Confident now in having found her place, free, the speaker proudly announces “I dwell in Possibility–/A fairer House than Prose” (1). Poetry is identified as “Possibility” while “Prose” retains its normal name. The speaker says where she lives is the realm of Poetry where many an alternative is possible. It is “more numerous of Windows” (3) that is, has an abundance of opportunities in the forms of openings from the enclosed space that is the metaphorical house.
The second stanza makes the argument that poetry has the potency to make extreme ends of affects reconcile. On one hand it is “Of Chambers as the Cedars–/Impregnable of Eye” (5-6) that is, dense, complex and clustered with meaning as if in a slip knot. On the other hand it is “...an Everlasting Roof–/ The Gambrels of the Sky–” (7-8) open, free and unhindered.
In the last stanza Poetry reaches the status of pure sainthood. Poetry is framed as the “fairest” of the “Visiters” , the most beautiful of divine apparitions (9). The very act of engaging in poetry, the “Occupation”, the speaker argues, is out-of-this-world and infinitely liberating. She celebrates this when she says “The spreading wide my narrow Hands(which is the longest[widest] line in the poem)/ To gather Paradise” (9-10)
As for the rhyme, it is almost nonexistent save for the first stanza that has an “abbb” scheme. The last stanza offers similar ending sounds at the end of the lines but they're not as close a match as that of the first stanza. The form is radically different from the Victorian epoch but typical of Dickinson, refined but rebellious, free-flowing but stable, complex but coherent.