Emily Dickinson, “Satisfaction – is the Agent” (1036)

Satisfaction – is the Agent (1036)
Emily Dickinson

Satisfaction — is the Agent
Of Satiety —
Want — a quiet Commissary
For Infinity.

To possess, is past the instant
We achieve the Joy —
Immortality contented
Were Anomaly.


When overfull – with too much – satisfaction can act. Only with a lot more do we feel secure. To be perfectly continent for the sake of moderation and the good is near impossible. Xenophon casts doubt on the very existence of his Socrates through the issue of continence (Memorabilia I.3.5).

Is “Want” any different from “Satisfaction,” then? It is a commissary – representative, supplier – for Infinity. Are we truly this needy and greedy? “Agent” is more general, less official than “Commissary.” It denotes action; “want” may be more passive. “Satisfaction” is achieved within plenitude. “Quiet Commissary” is not without virtues: divinity and knowledge are not had loudly.

How are the most important things the seeming object of greed? Our fear is only one explanation. Do we ever really possess anything? The instant we are joyful, possession is both of the past and also lying past us, i.e. a goal post. We ultimately are what we feel. We work toward feeling. As we are between possession always, an infinite extension of our lives only extends our mode of being indefinitely. Any serious, satisfactory account of human being focuses on us as desiring, pulling forth from and being drawn toward possibility.


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