Hope Is The Thing With Feathers Explication - Literature - Essay

1145 words - 5 pages

Running head: “HOPE” EXPLICATION 1
Explication of “Hope” is the thing with feathers (314) by Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)
By Emily Dickinson
Explication of “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson
"’Hope’ is the thing with feathers (314),” written in 1862, is one of the best-known
poems of Emily Dickinson. The poem portrays hope as a bird whose sweet song breathes life
into even the most troubled of souls. She reveals how hope takes form in our lives, regardless
of the circumstances, and how it is always there to lift us up no matter how difficult the
situation may be, through the use of extended metaphor, personification, and imagery.
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,
how it reacts to hardship, where it can be found, and what it asks for itself.
The poem opens with a metaphor, “‘hope’ is the thing with feathers.” Here, the speaker
is referring to hope as a bird with feathers which are soft and gentle to the touch but are also
strong in flight, even on tiny birds. This opening line not only sets the cheerful tone for the rest
of the poem but also paves the way for the many examples of imagery seen throughout the
poem such as the next line, “(hope) perches in the soul.” This opening metaphor contributes to
the other poetic devices included in the poem, as well as the overall artistic quality of the
poem. The speaker is able to make this “bird” sound both elegant and beautiful through careful
descriptions such as, “and sings the tune without the words.” In nature, when a bird “sings the
tune without words,” a beautiful melody is emitted which then fills one’s ears with joy and
pleasure. Hope is similar as a result of its ability to bring happiness and relief from its “tune.”
The speaker is implying that hope is not always words of encouragement but rather a feeling,
something that is found inside all of us. The last line of the first stanza, “And never stops - at
all,” shows that hope is in fact always​ ​inside of every single one of us.
As we know from the first stanza, hope is always singing. However, it sings the sweetest
when the going gets rough, “And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard.” So, when life is hard and
things are thrown our way, there is hope, singing through all of the chaos; it gets merrier and
sweeter as the storm gets mightier and relentless. It is ironic how throughout the poem,
Dickinson builds up hope to be this big, wonderful, powerful thing, yet she refers to it as “the
little Bird” in the third line of this second stanza, “And sore must be the storm / That could
abash the little Bird / That kept so many warm.” Essentially only the most extreme or
impossible-to-escape storm would affect the “bird.” Everyone knows how awful it feels when
hope is taken from us; it...

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