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Hope Is the Thing with Wings

In: English and Literature

Submitted By msavoy1
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Where there is no faith; Hope could not exist
Michelle Savoy
ENG 125: Introduction to Literature
Prof. Maria Rasimas
Nov. 3, 2014

Much like her poem “Because I could not stop for death”, Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” (Dickinson, 1861) , gives tribute to her religious roots. She uses a metaphor by describing hope in the form of a bird that becomes quite extensive as she builds on this metaphor later in the work. The use of a bird symbolizes freedom and almost an invincibility, capable of rising above storms and an element that is not easily defeated making it a sign of victory. While everyone will experience unfavorable times at one point or another in their lives Dickinson’s poem reveals that having hope can make all the difference in the world.
In her line, “And sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all, and sweetest in the gale is heard” ( Dickinson) she brings her metaphor to life. The bird begins to sing as if to encourage itself never stopping regardless of what it is facing. Nothing can stop this hope and the singing is sweet to the spirit of the person giving him/her fuel to keep on going.
“And sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird kept so many warm” Explains that the conditions of the storm would have to become rather harsh to consume the bird (hope) and destroy hope but even in that hope keeps on going. “I've heard it in the chillest land, and on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity” (Dickinson) suggests that no matter where you are in the world, the North pole or timbuck2, you will always find hope. Hope is never too far for one to grab hold and it will always be there in the darkest of times.
Her final line, “Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me” (Dickinson) is simply saying no matter how often you call on hope to come, no matter how much you depend on it you can call anytime day or night and it will show up expecting nothing in return. Hope comes from inside of an individual which is why it can be found anywhere at any time. It can be pulled out of the individual as needed and it can never be taken from you. It is almost as if to say that there is a super power within us that will help us get through every hard time in our lives and is available on command.
The tone of this poem is very mellow offering figurative language like; would be abash, sweetest in the gale, and on the strangest sea. The author personifies hope by giving it a voice “And sings the tune without the words” (Dickinson). She also uses words interchangeably to emphasize its meaning. For example she uses storm and sea, bird and feathers interchangeably. They mean the same thing but she is driving home her point of hope being easily accessible at all times.
In this poem Dickinson uses “recurring rhythmical patterns” (Clugston, 2014) to create this soft yet encouraging mood of the poem. She rhymes in small bits throughout the poem that changes the way I would read it. When listening to the book version of the audio spoken word I was not as impressed as I was listening to “we real cool” which was recited by the original author. While reading the poem allowed me to understand what the poet was intending to portray, I feel as though the mood of the poem might change entirely being read by the original author.
Finally I was taken by the content of the poem. The imagery, symbolism, and intent of the poem is what grabbed my attention the most. At first glance it seems almost too short to mean much but like her poem “I could not stop for death”, it is packed with information, imagery, and wisdom. It is also again a tribute to her faith (so it seems). She makes her readers aware that you can call on it anytime and it will show up with wings as though she could have meant in the form of an angel. Hope comes from faith, without faith in something (God or otherwise) hope could not exist.

Work Cited
Clugston, R. W. (2014). Journey into literature (2nd ed.). San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Dickinson, E. (1890). Because I Could Not Stop For Death…...

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