“Impossibility, like Wine” (838)
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 -
Impossibility exhilarates like Wine, when tasted. Possibility is flavorless (is possibility tasted? Doesn’t taste require choice?). The bigger questions, perhaps: does Impossibility have a flavor? Is it the flavor of Wine that makes it exhilarating?
After all these puzzles, an imperative: “combine.” Combine what? Not impossibility and possibility (that’s impossible, haha *groan*), but “A Chance’s faintest Tincture.” In a sense, this is impossibility/possibility again. We can take “tincture” – a trace of color – to be as flavor. But what is flavored is “chance:” chance seems awfully close to “possibility.”
One might be tempted to say that color (sight) has replaced flavor (taste) finally, and therefore we can speak of an impossibility/possibility mixture with some credence. But “dram” and “ingredient” are pretty strong images involving taste, and “A Chance’s faintest Tincture” has the peculiar quality of being one object only, although preceded by “Combine.”
To combine “A Chance’s faintest Tincture” is impossible: it’s just one object, and we only have the “Tincture.” We don’t adequately grasp “Chance.” But we try to combine our chances with what we feel our chances are all the time. We’ll color them any way we like and make them bolder than they ever ought to have been sketched. The imagination is “flavorless:” possibility implies a romance that can be characterized as impossible.
But surrounding the imaginative middle, “Possibility is flavorless – Combine / A Chance’s faintest Tincture,” there are two other groupings. There’s impossibility like Wine, which exhilarates, and flavorless possibility. We’ve talked about the absence of flavor perhaps defining this grouping, but it is clear now impossibility/possibility are perceived through taste because of “Man.” The second grouping, after the middle, makes us ask “is Man the Dram?” He most certainly is, as only he could add nothing to something and feel the latter change. But the Dram stands apart from him, too: “Enchantment makes ingredient / As certainly as Doom.” He is fated, and the building blocks of fate are manipulated into place by him unwittingly just as he feels he has most control. The sensual “exhilaration” has become a most irrational “enchantment.”
Still, one thing to which we haven’t paid strict attention. If impossibility exhilarates, what does possibility do? I might be combining a chance’s faintest tincture, but I’ll venture that this poem is more optimistic when thought through again. It’s easy to say “only impossibility exhilarates,” and ignore how closely bound impossibility is with possibility. It’s easy to say “fate governs everything, no one really chooses anything,” and ignore how we live on a day to day level, how we achieve daily even. We know impossibility too well, in a way: we are the Dram – the Wine – after all.