Alumversers: Keep in mind throughout our discussion - this discussion and throughout the winter and spring - that our eyes should be on the prize of the COURSE, not just the text we have in front of us. That is, to say, try always if possible to think about where this text and this discussion of this text might TAKE US as we move on into the modern and then the postmodern periods. To put it yet another way, I think we will get the most out of these discussions (humor me here) if we think of the poems as discrete or individual poems and at the same time as meta-poems - poems about poetry itself. Poems that tell us something about where *this* poem fits (or doesn't fit) in the role or purpose of poetry at large.

To that end, it will be good for us to think of Dickinson's "I dwell in possibility" as a poem make a particular case for - or contention for - a certain position about writing and reading. It's a case with which many people, including fans of poetry, do not agree.

In this course you should feel free completely to disagree - not just with each other (though that will happen) but with the contention you think is being made in or by the poem. That is, agree or disagree with Dickinson and the others.

Again, Dickinson is here offering a strong opinion about writing, reading--and especially meaning. The first job for you is to figure out what the case or contention is. The second job for you is to offer through this listserv your own opinion about Dickinson's contention.

She sets up comparative oppositions - the first being that the place or house or "Possibility" is "fairer" than that of "Prose." And she goes on to elaborate both the comparison and the analogy to the house (the House of *what*?) until she almost stumbles on the key word "This."

For Occupation -- This --

So that's her "occupation" - a nice pun, no? Occupation = a calling or job or professoin; *and* an inhabitation (as in a place or House).

So, once again: post to this list your brief considerations, first, about what case or contention ED is making by way of her comparison (x is fairer than y, "more numerous", etc.), and, second, about what YOU think of this case or contention. Do you agree with Dickinson that "Possibility" is a "fairer House than Prose"?

Good luck and enjoy.


P.S. I am, as we go along, creating a world wide web page. It will include postings such as this plus some or all of the poems I sent along. Take a look:


P.P.S. For those of you who worry about how hard it will be to discuss poetry as energetically as we are likely to do so with so many people...let me just say that I have a trick up my sleeve. I will announce in about a week a way - an electronic forum - in which some of us can come together "live time" or synchronously to hold a smaller-size seminar discussion on any or all of these topics. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, bear up under the weight of the email about to invade your accounts. Use your delete button frequently. Don't feel you need to save postings sent to the group; I am keeping an archive of everything, and, later, if you want copies of part or all of the discussion, Carlos and Christy and I can arrange to get them to you.