I dwell in Possibility

I dwell in Possibility

by Emily Dickinson 

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise.

Summary of I Dwell in Possibility

  • Popularity of “I dwell in Possibility”: This poem is written by Emily Dickinson, a great American writer. ‘I Dwell in Possibility’ is one of the best poems from the poet known for hope and freedom of expression. The poem speaks about the positive attributes of creativity and observation. It illustrates how hope gives us numerous chances to express ourselves. The poem adds the importance of joy and satisfaction following a freedom of expression.
  • “I Dwell in Possibility” As a Representative of Joy: This poem is an expression of joy the speaker experiences due to the extent of her love for creativity after comparing it with prose. The poem begins with a stark comparison. The speaker compares poetry and prose to two homes, preferring the one having more doors and windows, implying vastness of poetry. Also, she compares poetry to widespread nature, implying there are numbers of inlets to comprehend poetic works. She adds that the spacious rooms of that house are made of cedars, but they are invisible to the naked eye. It is because poetry has nothing to do with sight.
    Rather, it is perceived and interpreted with the mind.  Moreover, the roof of that house is like the gamblers of the sky, and its visitors are also fairer. Hence, she is proud of her profession as she loves to write and interpret poetry and believes that those who prefer poetry to prose are sacred people because they know how to dive deep into the few words of the poets.
  • Major Themes in “I Dwell in Possibility”: Power of poetry, nature, and joy are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, the poet tries to develop the idea that poetry possesses an ultimate power and that it is superior to other genres of literature. Its small verses, coupled with few expressions, carry infinite intent. To her, it is limitless and infinite, something that has many ways of interpreting and analyzing. She projects it as a powerful entity that allows its readers to feel things beyond rational thoughts. It allows us to experience feelings, rejoice pleasures and escape from the world around us. Hence, poetry, with its limitless possibilities, turn impossible things into possible ones.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “I Dwell in Possibility”

Literary devices are tools that the writers use to create depth in their texts. Their appropriate use can easily connect the readers to the main idea of the text. Emily Dickinson has also used some literary devices in this poem to enhance the intended impacts of the poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /i/ in “I dwell in Possibility”.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound /r/ in “Superior – for Doors.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it continues in the next line. For example,

“The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “A fairer House than Prose”, “And for an everlasting Roof” and “The spreading wide my narrow Hands.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. Windows and doors metaphorically represent possibilities offered by poetry.
  3. Paradox: A paradox is a statement that may seem contradictory but can be true. For example, “More numerous of Windows” and “Impregnable of eye”. These paradoxes in the poem to illuminate the idea of how poetry, creativity or art can provide us freedom of expression.
  4. Simile: It is a device used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, the house is compared to Cedars (fragrant leaving trees).
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal meanings. Here, the house with various doors and windows symbolizes limitless possibilities.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “I Dwell in Possibility”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free verse poem with no strict rhyme scheme or metrical pattern.
  2. Iambic Tetrameter: It is a type of meter having three iambs per line. The poem follows the iambic trimester. For example,fairer House than 
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each having four verses in it. 

Quotes to be Used 

The lines stated below are useful while describing the structure of a grand house.

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky.”