Emily Dickinson: Impossibility, like Wine

Emily Dickinson: Impossibility, like Wine – the autograph. Courtesy of Amherst College, Amherst MA

Emily Dickinson wrote her poem around 1864. She died 22 years later. She did not live to see her poem published. She did not live to see any of her poems published.

Somebody has suggested that, while composing the poem, she was thinking of enchantment and exhilaration as the elements of her creative process. Somebody else claims that looking for the possible inside the impossible is the spice of life. Still others feel that in wine, there is truth, and that the poem should be translated into Polish. I agree on all counts.

Impossibility, like Wine

Impossibility, like Wine
Exhilarates the Man
Who tastes it; Possibility
Is flavorless — Combine

A Chance’s faintest Tincture
And in the former Dram
Enchantment makes ingredient
As certainly as Doom —

Niemożność niczym Wino

Niemożność niczym Wino
Wprowadza w Upojenie
Tego, kto ją kosztuje;
Możność ma smak nijaki –

Dodaj choć cień Nadziei
I w łyku Niemożności
Oczarowanie znajdziesz
Pewne jak Potępienie –

Translated from English by Jurek Hirschberg