A fairer House than Prose

Emilio Magistretti, il Duomo, General exterior view from the east, 1921.

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 –

I found myself quoting the opening line of this one to Sophie, who is on a Dickinson kick with me. I couldn’t remember the rest of the poem and so had to look it up.

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4 Responses to A fairer House than Prose

  1. Stephanie January 31, 2017 at 3:44 am #

    Exquisite!

    This led to a reverie involving the aria ‘I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls’ and the opening line of du Maurier’s novel Rebecca. Back to the poem- I love the last stanza especially.

    • Melanie Bettinelli
      Melanie Bettinelli January 31, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

      Oh I love those connections, I definitely see how you drift from one to the next. Enya’s version of Marble Halls was once on continuous play in my dorm room, it’s such a haunting song. And then I love how you connect that with the opening of Rebecca, too.

      And yes, that last stanza catches my breath every time.

      For me the connection I make is to the final stanza of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ The Chambered Nautilis:

      “Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
      As the swift seasons roll!
      Leave thy low-vaulted past!
      Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
      Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
      Till thou at length art free,
      Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!”

  2. Zagorka February 1, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    I find myself returning to this post and poem again and again –
    thank you!

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