Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
Poetry Explication Essay: Hope Is The Thing With Feathers By Emily Dickinson
The poem I chose to explicate is Hope is the Thing With Feathers. It was written by Emily Dickinson in 1861, and it was published in Poems by Emily Dickinson 2nd Series in 1891. The whole poem is a metaphor for hope, using a bird as the comparison. It begins by comparing it to a “thing with feathers” or a bird that never ends or stops. It then goes on to say that it is the “sweetest when the gale is heard” or that hope is the sweetest when you are in a difficult place in your life. Then it says that the storm in your life must be extreme to stop hope and that hope is the thing that keeps you warm in the storm. In the last stanza, she says that no matter where we are or how extreme the situation is that it never asks for anything in return.
Since her entire poem is a metaphor she uses quite a bit of symbolism. The bird obviously is the symbol for hope and the “tune it sings without words that never stops at all” symbolizes that hope isn’t in words but in feeling and it continues infinitely. In the next stanza, the gale and storm symbolize the difficult times that we experience in our lives and the one thing we want in a storm is to be warm. Finally, in the last stanza she talks about the “chillest land” and the “strangest sea”, which is alliteration, these are places that no one would want to stay at they are also the hard times in our lives and these are the places that she had heard the singing of hope.
As in most of her poems, Emily Dickinson does not give a speaker in Hope is the Thing With Feathers nor does it have a specific audience. She rarely puts a specific speaker into her poems such as this one because typically the speaker isn’t the important thing but the message and subject of the poem. During her life, though she wrote many poems she didn’t have many of them published and typically kept them to herself or her family and close friends. Although she did send in about one hundred poems to the Atlantic Monthly, only a few were published anonymously and prior to her consent. The purpose of her poem is to describe hope. She does this using the metaphor of a bird. The poem helps us to understand hope more deeply than we did before.
Although it may look simple at first the more you analyze the form and meter of her poem the more complex it becomes. It is a ballad, which is a poem narrating a story in short stanzas, and is technically written in slant rhyme because the words that rhyme only partially sound alike. The rhyme scheme is loosely ABCB. However, the last stanza is technically in ABBB and there are a couple accidental carryover rhymes such as heard and bird in the second stanza. The meter is a mix between iambic trimeter and tetrameter. It has iambic feet because the lines have an unstressed then a stressed syllable. Such as the first line looks like this. The / showing unstressed syllables and the | showing stressed syllables. /|/|/| In some verses it is in trimeter meaning it has three iambic feet per line, so three / | / | / | and in some, it is in tetrameter which has four iambic feet per line. Even though her form and meter may seem as simple as slant rhyme with iambic trimeter once you look closer it becomes quite complicated.
Emily Dickinson wrote this in hopes that we might have a fuller understanding of how hope works after reading it and she succeeded. Her poem takes the concept of hope and the simple bird and gives us a beautiful poem about the amazing things hope accomplishes for us.
Waiting For An Angel By Helon Habila: Hope Is The Thing With Feathers
According to Desmond Tutu, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.” It whispers “You’ll get over this hardship”. It also reassures us while smoothing our minds by reminding us “life will improve.” Everyday many lives are infused with pain and suffering. Yet, we can overcome these fears by hope. Hope provides us with the strength to conquer our misery, motivates us to preserve to journey onward despite the obstacles blocking off the life. Though hope can be a topic of little interest, in books such as Waiting for an Angel, there are many messages throughout the book mentioning the high qualities of hope. Waiting for an Angel, Helon Habila’s fiction novel provides a substantial amount of political scenarios and circumstances that depicts the reality of hope powerful enough to overcome tough situations as post-traumatic stress and being able to see there is light despite all the darkness lying around.
Hope is the essence of life and without it, we could not live a peaceful life without it deep in the heart. It gives strength to overcome pain, and makes the journey for the future easier. The beginning of the novel, displays a scene of one particular prisoner suffering, hoping to make it to live to see the next day. His name is Lomba. During his imprisonment he wrote and thought about the reasoning of hope. He describes the harsh feelings and conditions by explaining how the deep part of him felt. “This was soul calling to soul. A tired, trapped lock at last meeting the key that unlocks it.” (Habila 36) The quote from the novel represents a person’s inside feelings when hope is not inside. Without it, the body feels like it is locked up trying to find a key to finally open it up. Lives are infused with pain and suffering. Yet we can overcome the hardship with hope which provides us strength to conquer misery and despair. Inside the mind, hope allows it to release positivity while protecting the negative trying to come in.
Hope also helps us keep our fight on by allowing us to improve the life that is currently taking place. Constantly, Lomba had heard people discriminating him on how he would never have an opportunity to get out. “Prison. That was all he saw ahead of me. Go in, try your luck, ask for good fortune, don’t ask too closely.” Many types of events can lead to the doubt of hopes and beliefs. For example in the book while Lomba sits in solitary confinement, everyday timing when his life will change and there will be a path of light coming his way. His hope allows him to contemplate the mysteries of life along with encouraging him to think about what he can do to make his life. In a poem named Hope by Langston Hughes, he reveals hope as a person who is facing loneliness or depression. To get over this, the person imagines a world without loneliness, while the feeling starts to fade away. This poem relates to the life Lomba faced during his imprisonment. He had the thought of not being there for him. To get over this feeling, he started to write poems about him and others in hopes of the feeling to drift away. Performing these actions help with staying with the fight and not letting the negativity to come in.
In the most critical of times, hope brings a reminder of optimism making it possible to win many battles. “Here in this country our dreams are never realised., says Lomba. “Someone always contrives to turn them into a nightmare.” In a critical time when life is on the line, hope brings the reminder to stay optimistic about the current event and doing this makes winning battles much easier. Lomba notices in the country many people have hopes of a better country, but there is always the one person who comes and turns them into nightmares instead. Without the help of hope, the people of the country would not be able to cope with the situation they are currently facing along with motivation that it can get better. A poet by the name of Jericho Brown, sets his poem Psalm 150 about a person nearing the last moments of their lives trying to rely on hope to survive. The ending of the poem “…. like a man who’s lost and lived. Something keeps trying, but I’m not killed yet.” Just as Lomba states the problems occurring amongst the country, the community begins to lack optimism allowing the mindset of failure to roll in. In the poem, as the person is attempting to live their life to the fullest and has had many struggles through life, something inside wants to pull through keeping them alive. The idea of optimism allows one to persevere and push through the rugged occasions.
Helon Habila used events such as Lomba’s prisonment and the many protests to illustrate the main theme of hope. Through all the events, it shows how hope is always there as a shining light guiding the path. During Lomba’s time in prison, he had made sure to say a little reminder reminding him there will be a chance for him soon to be freed. The protest represented the hopes of the whole community and the different perspectives of hope that played on each on the individuals. In both events it showed the effects hope has on a community and an individual. Either situation, demonstrates the three main importances of hope including the idea of staying optimistic, giving strength, allowing to move forward to the journey of life. Whether an individual or a whole community, hope is the match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the road ahead and eventually the way out.
Analysis of the Concept of Hope in the Poems Life and Hope is a Thing with Feathers
Bronte has an interesting look on hope. In her poem called “Life” she explains some days you might have rough cloudy days, causing you to trudge but hope will pick you up and your despair will vanish. On the other hand, Emily Dickinson has a slightly different look comparing hope to an undefeatable bird. The theme they have in common is hope though it is described in different ways, it has similar qualities.
In Charlotte Bronte’s poem, “Life” she explains life will not be perfect, you will wake up hearing the pitter patter of the rain falling and think to yourself it is going to be a dull/gloomy day, but “the shower will make the roses bloom” giving us an appealing sight of the vibrant flowers. Bronte plays a figurative role in this stanza comparing “gloomy days” to problems we face in our lives. Meaning the problems that occur in our day to day lives will eventually pass and we “the roses” will bloom from them, we will learn and grow from that experience. Bronte encourages us to enjoy the “sunny ” things as they last. There will be times when death enters your life “and call [your] best away” and you will feel hopeless and let the sorrow get to you, but hope will not take a heavy blow such as that and end its life there, instead “hope again elastic springs,/ Unconquered though he fell” will help pick you back up on your feet and get you through the hardships.
Hope is a Thing with Feathers
Dickinson begins her poem with a metaphor in the first two lines. “Hope is a thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul” This metaphor helps the reader get a visual sense of what hope might look like. Our soul is the center of our individual lives and hope is the bird, or in literal terms, the force that drives us to reach our ambitions. “And sweetest-in the Gale- is hear-,” meaning in your darkest times hope might be the sweetest thing you needed. The rest of that stanza talks about hope is a powerful thing, it’s job is to comfort people; but even a strong storm could not knock down someone who is filled with hope. The beautiful thing about hope is that the reader claims they have “heard it in the chillest land- and on the strangest sea-” meaning everywhere you go, hope is there. There isn’t an island without hope on it; and it never asks “for a crumb” in return. Meaning hope will never ask you to trade something in exchange of encouragement. Hope is there to encourage us to get back on our feet and keep moving forward.
The Differences between the Poems
The main differences between both poems, “life” and “Hope is the thing with feathers” is that hope is described slightly differently. Dickinson suggests hope is something special inside the soul of every being; it comforts the people drowning in sadness without asking something back from them in return. While Bronte says situations in life might seem like they are going downhill and you might feel like you’re at your worst but the hope that you thought died will spring back up and help you conquer your sorrows. Bronte interestingly slightly shifts the tone when she mentions death taking our loved ones away. This strengthens Bronte’s message of the poem because death is a stern topic that everyone can relate to in some way, focusing all the readers attention to what the poem’s messages is trying to portray. Bronte’s poem helps captivate the reader with the flow of the poem through rhyme. Every stanza has a different rhyme scheme. The first stanza’s rhyme scheme is ABCBDEDE, second stanza is ABCB, and the third stanza is ABABCDCDEFEF. In contrast Dickinson’s poem uses roundabout rhymes instead of neatly rhyming everything like Bronte had; although she does not have the flow to the poem she can still captivate her readers attention through her roundabout rhymes.
What the reader can take from both poems is, that hope is a never- ending force within us that can help us open our eyes to see that there will never be a bad situation that lasts a life time, everything will pass. Even when the odds are and we see only negative signs pointing toward a bad situation we need to have hope so that even on the darkest of days we will continue to take that next step forward, no matter how hard it may be, in pursuit of something better.
The Power of Hope in Hope is the Thing with Feathers
“‘Hope Is The Thing With Feathers” was one of 1800 poems written by Emily Dickinson in 1862 (Spacey). In her poem, the speaker compares hope to a bird that is always present in the human soul and never stops singing its tunes. The bird is able to sing no matter the obstacles it faces, and it never asked the speaker for anything in return for its songs. According to the speaker, hope is an eternal good that never asks for anything in return. Through her use of metaphor, syntax, and symbolism, the poem serves as a reminder of the power of hope and how little it requires of people.
The poem begins with a metaphor, comparing hope to an elusive bird. Dickinson has many poems who seek to define an abstract idea. By comparing hope to a bird, she seeks to define this idea and explore its significance. However, in the opening lines, Dickson does not immediately compare hope to a bird. Instead, Dickinson says, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” It does not explicitly state that this thing with feathers is actually a bird, making the opening of her poem somewhat in ambiguity. This ambiguity is represented in people’s conception of the idea of hope. As the poem progresses to the second stanza, it is explicitly stated that the thing with feathers is a bird, and it is done so by explaining that the birds songs sound sweetest “in the Gale,” and that only the most powerful of storms could “abash the little bird.” The inclement weather in Dickinson’s poem are symbolic of the difficult times that people go through. By stating that the storm must be sore in order to abash the bird, Dickinson implies that only the most horrific of circumstances could have an impact on the hope felt by the individual. The poem finishes with the speaker stating that she has “heard it in the chillest land” and “on the strangest sea.” This serves two main functions. The first function is to present the idea that hope is heard when one feels most isolated. In this case, hope is an ever present treat that follows the individual anywhere they may go, and as aforementioned, no matter where they might go, sore must be the storm to disrupt their hope. The second function is to present the idea that hope is found when the individual most needs it. This function is explored in the second stanza as well, as when one does go through very difficult times, the sweet tunes on hope perched in the human soul are heard. Hope follows people, it is heard when it is needed, everywhere. The poem finishes by explaining that hope “never asked a crumb” of the speaker. This serves to explain that one can experience the incredible fortitude of hope with little work required. This corresponds well to the third and fourth stanza of the poem, who read that the tune of hope never stops at all. This all serves to present a theme of everlasting hope. There is little that can disrupt hope, for hope thrives when one feels most distant and vulnerable, where the beautiful sound of hope resonates in the human soul.
Dickinson also explores many stylistic techniques, such as dashes and anaphora to add emphasis to the idea that hope is eternal.. David Porter adds that the stylistic techniques present in Dickinson’s work adds a richness of statement to her poetry. Another academic, Sean Robisch, sought a more objective reason for Dickinson’s dashes. Robisch explains that the dashes serve as a period, adding a grammatical “sleight of hand” to her poetry. While this seems to be correct, Porter’s assertion makes more thematic sense. There are many instances in “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” where Dickinson chooses to isolate specific phrases with dashes. Dickinson chooses to isolate specific phrases that explore the theme of the eternal power of hope, and it serves as an emphasis on the underlying meaning of each line. For example, in the first stanza, the words “at all” are isolated with dashes. By emphasizing this phrase, Dickinson expands on the idea that the sweet tunes of hope that perches in peoples soul never stops chirping; hope is eternal. As aforementioned, Dickinson also explains that hope is a tune that is heard even in the most dire circumstances. Dickinson seeks to add great emphasis to this idea by isolating “in the Gale” in the second stanza. The second stanza’s main function is to present the idea of hope reaching people in their greatest struggles, isolating “in the Gale” with dashes serves to assert that hope is heard especially in these circumstances. In the final stanza, Dickinson hopes to finish with the idea that hope requires little of people in return by stating that the metaphorical bird that defines hope has “never asked a crumb” of her. In this line, the word “never” is isolated. This serves to really set in stone that should be thought of as a gift, and not necessarily something that needs to be worked for. Because of this, Dickinson’s syntax, while serving the poem grammatically, is more geared toward putting emphasis on the idea that ‘hope’ has never left this speaker, and is heard in the most dire circumstances. Aside from Dickinson’s use of dashes in “‘Hope is the thing with feathers” to add emphasis to the theme of the work, she also utilizes anaphora to point out that hope is impossible to thwart. There are several lines in her poem which begin with the word “And,” and then proceed to describe a powerful and persevering trait about the bird. Phrases like “And never stops,” “And sore must be the storm,” and “And on the strangest sea” all point towards the strength of the bird. In other words, the anaphora helps build a sense that hope gives people the strength to persevere, or to move forward. There is so much that hope does for people that when looking at everything it does, it seems to pile up. Hope can be found anywhere, for it lives inside the human spirit, as hope is perched in the soul. Figuratively, Dickinson’s use of rhymes further demonstrate hope as a driver for perseverance. The rhyming in this poem adds emphasis to the idea that hope sings sweeter in people’s most vulnerable times. In the second stanza, Dickinson rhymes ‘heard’ with ‘bird’ when describing that it swings sweetest in violent storms to solidify this idea. This idea is intensified when the speaker rhymes ‘sea’ and ‘me’ to give further emphasis to her realization that hope has never demanded anything from her while always being present, even in the most difficult times in her life. This gives a further feeling of the strength and resilience that hope gives to people. All of the rhyming done in this poem is to add emphasis to hopes ability to sing sweetly, drowning out any terrible noise.
In this case the bird is presented as hopeful, however, there are other works where Dickinson takes an approach when using bird as a symbol or metaphor. Such is the case with Dickinson’s “A bird, came down the Walk.” In this poem, the speaker is observing a bird who bites a worm in half. The bird proceeds to drink dew from grass and notices the speaker. Fearful, the bird flies away. In this case, the bird is very aware of the dangers of the world around it. It is fearful, anxious, yet purposeful. There are many ways in which this poem contrasts “”Hope is the thing with feathers.” For one, it demonstrates that life is not something that can endure anything. “Hope is the thing with feathers” seems to explain that people are able to endure many circumstances through the resilience that hope offers them. However, in “A bird, came down the Walk,” the bird is very thoughtful of the potential dangers of its world. It moves very anxiously when being observed, for any moment could be its last. Just as the worm lived its last moments as it ventured into a world that was bigger than it. Indeed, there are obstacles that people may not be able to cross, there are circumstances that are bigger than what people can stop themselves. Although contrasting in these ways, the poems are also very similar. In the final stanza, the birds beauty is compared to a butterfly, and it said to move “splashless” through the air. Similarly, in “Hope is the thing with feathers,” the bird is described to sing sweetly, and the adjective “little” when used to describe the bird evoke a sense of grace that the bird has. Although it is small, it is able to withstand the large world around it.
With the use of metaphor, clever syntax, and symbolism, the speaker defines the word “hope.” The extended metaphor of the bird as a definition for hope illustrate that although people may be vulnerable and small, they are able to withstand much through hope, as illustrated by the little bird withstanding a storm. When all is done, this bird never asks a crumb of the speaker, further showing that hope is more of a gift, rather than something that must be taxing on the individual. The syntax present in her poem is able to effectively convey the idea that hope is eternal and is always present within the human soul through isolating specific absolute words such as “never” and “at all.” Generally speaking, this poem hopes to explain that hope is eternal within one’s soul and spirit, and that it is strongest when times are rough, giving many the physical and emotional fortitude to be resilient.
Concept of Hope in Hope is the Thing with Feathers Poem
In “Hope” is the Thing With Feathers, Emily Dickinson uses many techniques to make the poem more lively and fun to read.
In this poem, Emily Dickinson uses an irregular rhyming scheme of “abcb.” This means that in each of the three stanzas, the second and the fourth line rhymes with each other. Along with her irregular rhymes, she uses irregular punctuation to direct her readers into certain flow of the poem. In this poem, she uses many hyphens to emphasize the expenditures. This gives the poem the effect of soft, slow, feather floating in the air. She also capitalizes key words in the middle of sentences that are main symbols or have a big effect on the poem. This also points the reader’s eyes to these words so that they will pay closer attention to them.
Emily Dickinson compares the “Hope” to “the thing with feathers” or simply birds. This implies that hope has the ability to take someone up, or to heaven. The birds have feathers and therefore, are able to fly upward. This shows you that with hope, someone could get closer to heaven, or happiness. Hope is something that can lift someone’s soul or spirit up. She is also saying that hope or faith is the only thing that can get someone up to heaven because without hope, you have no feathers and therefore you will fall down to hell. It is like someone said, “There is no future without any hope.” Hope is what keeps us going and what makes our life worth living. If there was no hope, you will be better if you died and be stuck in hell because there is no point in living.
Hope is everywhere and is always there for you even though you do not realize what it is or feel its presence. It is just like “the tune without the words.” You may not realize exactly what the song is but you understand vaguely and what kind of song it is. You may not know the words, but the tune stays in your mind and you hum the tune over and over again. Hope is just like that. You may not know what it is but it is always in your mind and never stops “humming” its presence to you.
According to Dickinson’s poem, hope is described as being omnipresent and being able gives one the ability to get through whatever problems, turmoil, or trials we go through in life. In line 5 and 6, it states “And sweetest — in the Gale –is heard–.. And sore must be the storm-” . Gale is defined as a strong gust of wind, thus this “storm” is the image given by Dickinson to describe the turmoil and struggles we go through in life. As it states in line 6, “That could abash the little Bird”, these struggles and problems we have in life overshadow the hope that is always with us. Dickinson is trying to tell us that when troubling times come our way, hope is suppressed by these struggles we go through thus although hope is always there, it may not be seen by the individual. It is when we are able to see this hope, can it gives strength to overcome those times of need. Line 8, “That kept so many warm”, is stating the fact that when we have this hope instilled within us and we are able to “see” this hope, we feel a sense of comfort and security. When we lose sight of this hope, the individual would become scared and be filled sorrow but if we try to seek this hope it can always be obtained because hope is always felt the greatest during those times we really need it. Once we feel this sense of hope that gives us security that we seek in our lives, we will continue to seek this hope looking for this comfort, this warmth, that we sometimes lack during our times of need.
Hope exists everywhere: “in the chillest land” and “on the strangest Sea.” However, hope never asks you for help or asks you if it may give you hope. Instead, it is there no matter what you say or what you think. You cannot say, “I want some hope” or “I wish I had hope,” because hope is always there for you no matter what condition you are in. It is realizing this fact that will get you to hope itself. Hope is something that gives assurance, health, and strength. It does not take something away from you. It simply gives. Hope does not ask you if it can come inside you but it is a natural part that is within us, doing it’s duty equally among all.
Visual – Bird, Clouds, Background
The bird signifies hope as it is stated within this poem. The bird is the central part of this poster because it is the most important symbol found in this poem. The bird’s characteristics of being light and being able to fly up.. toward heaven, is used to describe hope. Hope can be defined as looking toward heaven for something better, such as a better life. In the Visual the bird has just bursts through the Grey clouds, which we have associated with the “storm” or “gale”. This “storm” symbolizes the struggles and strife we go through in life. These struggles try to suppress hope but hope (bird) continues to fly, and never ends as it is stated in this quote, “And never stops – at all – “. It has passed these struggles and brings the individual that much closer to what it hopes to achieve. The Family and the Cross found in the background are two of many things the people look towards for this hope that we all hope to achieve.
Visual- Cross, family, success
Different people turn or look to different things for hope. Religion, family, and success are just a few of these many things. The cross on our poster signifies and symbolizes religion. People turn to religion for the hope of being rescued from their turmoil and difficulties. The cross is above the storm in our poster because religion helps us to overcome and get past our problems Family is another symbol of hope because people turn to their families for comfort and safety. Family can also give hope when people are feeling discouraged. People also turn to success for hope as is symbolized by the money. Success gives some people satisfaction because they need not to worry about being in poverty. People are also filled with hope by having success because they have the means to sustain themselves.