Prompt: Use a quote – I know I’m supposed to actually indent this but I found a picture of the poem (quote) I wanted to share. I started out with a different quote but I like this poem a lot better so please enjoy the wonderful poetry of Emily Dickinson “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” and my comments.
I started to learn and appreciate poetry in high school. In school, we studied a unit in English 10 on Canadian Poetry. My favorite line is from a poem I cannot find today: ” No thank you, soldier, I do not like chocolate anymore.” I enjoyed poetry because it was shorter to read then a novel and for me, more meaningful. When I started to study poetry in first year university for English majors, I fell in love with the language of poetry. I love the rhymes, meter, similes, epistrophe, allusions, consonance, alliteration, assonance, metaphors, personifications, and all those other useful tools that form a poem. In my fourth year, I took American poetry and was introduced to the amazing words of Emily Dickinson.
I learned so much in that poetry class with Dr. McNamara. I learned that you read poetry line by line and sentence by sentence.That the parts of a sentence can be moved around to find the meaning. You can play with words, that’s what this class taught me. You can move words around until you find a meaning, or until you make a meaning obscure.
“Hope is a Thing with Feathers” is not a poem I studied in University; but I adored it the first time I read the poem shuffling through some Dickinson poetry on the Internet.
In the poem ” Hope is a Thing with Feathers,” by Emily Dickinson, hope is personified as a bird ” . . .the thing with feathers” (1) and it ” . . . perches in the soul.(2)” Birds usually perch on trees so there is the metaphor of a soul as a tree that the bird perches on. Moreover, the birds song is personified as hope that”sings the tune without the words / [a]nd never stops at all. (3-4). Like a bird, hope sings a song without words. It has a beautiful song that is only a tune . But unlike a bird, the music that hope sings never stops; the song of hope never ceases within our souls and it helps us throughout life. The song of the bird or of hope doesn’t need words, to provide help to the hopeless. It is meaningful in a language only the soul understands.
Additionally, in the second stanza of Dickinson’s poem, we learn “…sweetest in the gale is heard / [a]nd sore must be the storm / [t]hat could abash the little bird / [t]hat kept so many warm(5-8). Dickinson is saying in this stanza that the little bird, the hope that keeps us warm, is not broken by a horrible storm.Our situation has to become terribly difficult for hope to leave us. The bird of hope carries it’s tune even in the biggest winds, the storms, the hard times in life. As well, the sound of hope is sweeter in the wind and storms, because that’s when we especially need hope. Hope would not “abash” us after “keeping us so warm (7-8).”
Moreover, Dickinson writes in the third stanza that she has heard hope (the bird) in “the chilliest land” and on “the strangest seas (9-10).” We hear hope, metaphorically from the bird, when life seems so cold and harsh; when life is moving and changing; and even when a person is sick as a person might become on the ocean which is consistently rolling out waves. Even in “extremity” hope never “. . . aske[s] a crumb of” us(11-12). In the worst times of our lives, hope does not make us pay for having hope. The little bird that personifies hope sings freely, she does not need anything. Hope is given without cost to the hoper even in the toughest situations in life. When everything else is lost; hope remains.
I pray that this poem makes you, the reader, feel better when you are facing life. Know that hope is always “perching” in your soul. It will never leave you in the harshest winds and storms. In fact, hope is “sweetest” in the storm. And to have hope does not cost you. It’s a virtue that’s free. You will never pay for hoping. Even when the harsh cruel realities of the world hurt us, hope will support are plight. In fact, far better for a person to have the freedom of hope, then to not have hope at all. Hope helps us with it’s metaphorical song, to stay strong.