Poetry

Poetry Friday: Hope is the thing with feathers – Emily Dickinson

hope is the thing with feathers Emily Dickinson Poem Poetry

I’ve been looking at the world and what I’ve seen hasn’t been pretty. Conflicts remain unresolved, new ones arise. But I’ve also seen people who stand up for what they believe is right and that gives me hope. Hope that one day, I’ll wake up and I won’t have to feel sad whenever I listen to the news. Hope that my children will have a decent world to live in.

So thank you, to everyone who’s been raising their voice, calling out the destructive forces. Respect.

About the poem:

This simple, metaphorical description of hope as a bird singing in the soul is another example of Dickinson’s homiletic style, derived from Psalms and religious hymns. Dickinson introduces her metaphor in the first two lines (“ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers— / That perches in the soul—”), then develops it throughout the poem by telling what the bird does (sing), how it reacts to hardship (it is unabashed in the storm), where it can be found (everywhere, from “chillest land” to “strangest Sea”), and what it asks for itself (nothing, not even a single crumb). Though written after “Success is counted sweetest,” this is still an early poem for Dickinson, and neither her language nor her themes here are as complicated and explosive as they would become in her more mature work from the mid-1860s. Still, we find a few of the verbal shocks that so characterize Dickinson’s mature style: the use of “abash,” for instance, to describe the storm’s potential effect on the bird, wrenches the reader back to the reality behind the pretty metaphor; while a singing bird cannot exactly be “abashed,” the word describes the effect of the storm—or a more general hardship—upon the speaker’s hopes. – source

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