Well, I see in the Empire Building something else – passionate skill, arduous and fearless idealism. The tallest building is a victory of imagination. Instead of crouching close to earth like a beast, the spirit of man soars to higher regions, and from this new point of vantage he looks upon the impossible with fortified courage and dreams yet more magnificent enterprises.

This is from Hellen Keller's letter saying what she saw on Empire State Building. I can't exactly understand what 'on the other bank' implies here.

I wonder what 'the impossible' refers to here. Is it the people with fortified courage and dreams yet more magnificent enterprises?

  • 2
    "The impossible" means "things which are impossible to do or achieve". As for "the other bank", you should quote in the question the bit you're asking about, rather than require people to go looking for a link and reading through a text. It's probably a reference to crossing a river. – Stuart F Mar 1 at 10:25
  • "The impossible" is a metaphoric idiom. – Hot Licks Mar 1 at 13:35
  • "On the other bank" appears to be referring to the River Styx or something similar. Another metaphor. – Hot Licks Mar 1 at 13:38

The 'impossible' act of trying to reach the heavens via a man-made object/building

Tower of Babel: a tower presumptuously intended to reach from earth to heaven, the building of which was frustrated when Jehovah confused the language of the builders (Genesis 11:1–9) https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/tower-of-babel.

The 'other bank*' may be the place (as opposed to the Empire Building itself) 'looked upon' from the height of the Empire Building. This could be an attempt to inform the reader of the place 'where' the 'people' strive to concoct ever more extravagant ideals, in the buildings envisioned.

*(the riverbank on the opposite sde of the River Hudson)

IMO I think Keller should have said "This, the tallest building,..." instead of "The tallest building...",as a follow on from '...I see in the Empire Building something else...'

This may have reduced the ambiguity as to what (this visually impaired woman) intended to articulate from the mind's eye, regarding the building on which she was standing, as opposed to an imagined building on the other riverbank.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.