Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s I dwell in Possibility (No. 657) and The Soul selects her own Society (No. 303)
The Soul selects her own Society
Then shuts the Door
To her divine Majority
Present no more
Unmoved she notes the Chariots pausing
At her low Gate
Unmoved an Emperor kneeling
Upon her Mat
I’ve known her from an ample nation
Then close the Valves of her attention
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
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The idea of a regal Emperor - and you may picture the Emperor in his flowing, ornate robes - actually kneeling before a common woman - is an image that sets the tone of superiority. The reader can ‘see’ the "ample nation" begging for her attention and ‘see’ her point at one then turn away from the rest. "Like Stone" is a concrete image of the poet herself shutting out all that she does not desire.
Yet another analysis’ of the images in "The Soul selects her own Society" are that they create a theme analogous to God and the universe. The "Soul" as the human being sees herself as god-like, she creates a universe of her own choosing by creating a defined space with her carefully chosen words - "Door", "Gate" - which keep the external world out. Whereas God has created ‘Heaven’ for His personal space, the poet’s haven is not grand, but simple - "low Gate", "her Mat". The poet is the ‘common man’ who becomes superior through linguistic word play. The suggestion of superiority as stated above infer that the soul has given herself ‘heavenly’ qualities. Each word has been carefully chosen by Dickinson to convey her message.
The search for the exact word is lauded in Dickinson’s poem "I dwell in Possibility". In this poem she speculates on the craft of poetry. The poet loves words and delights in the vast number of words that she has to choose from. She sees poetry as having infinite "Possibility", whereas prose is more limiting. There are more "Windows" in poetry, more opportunities to portray the imagination.
Through poetry, the poet is free to make nouns verbs, adjectives nouns, verbs adjectives. For example, "I dwell in Possibility" - should this be read as a noun, as a place? One word has many meanings and Emily concentrated on searching for the ‘exact’ word. Wells remarks on Emily’s word choices, "Each principal word in a major lyric constitutes for her the...