Study Guide

I dwell in Possibility Sound Check

By Emily Dickinson

Sound Check

Turn up the volume, Shmoopers. Get ready for some serious sound.

The first quatrain is loaded with sound games. For example, Emily hits us up with some alliteration in the first two lines. We're guessing you can spot it:

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
(1-2)

That's right. We've got repeated P sounds in "Possibility" and "Prose," which links the last words of each line. To us, this helps highlight the two main things she's comparing—poetry, a.k.a. "Possibility," and poor, limited prose.

Emily then goes on to link line 2 and line 3 with a real-deal rhyme. Check out the last two words in each of these lines:

A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
(2-3)

It's interesting that she again chooses to link contrasting things with sound. "Prose" is shown as something that's much more closed off than poetry, while "Windows" are a symbol of openness. Generally speaking, of course. 

It Keeps Going and Going…

Emily's not quite done with us yet, though. Take a look at how she links 1.3 and 1.4 with internal rhyme:

More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
(3-4)

Yeah, we've got "More," "Superior," and "for," and then a near rhyme with "Doors." All of this puts a nice cap on the end of the quatrain before we move on to the next one.

From here on out, Emily chills out with the sound games for the most part. She does rhyme "eye" with "Sky" in the second quatrain (lines 6 and 8), but on the whole the poem is more free-floating. We never get any kind of regular rhyme scheme or anything like that. This totally makes sense for the poem, though, since it's about how poetry expands the mind. As it takes us into infinity and beyond, it liberates us from any strict structures that might keep us down.