“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers

 “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers

by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Summary of “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers

  • Popularity: Written by Emily Dickinson, an American poet, “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers” is a masterpiece of spiritual expressions about hope and its impacts on the mind. It was first published in 1891 and gained immense popularity due to its subject. Emily has presented hope as an ever-singing and selfless bird within the soul of a person. According to her, hope as a golden quality of human being that shines even during adversity. Using it as a metaphor, she has highlighted the importance of being hopeful and optimistic. Dickenson also explains that only hope can help us to remain positive during extreme situations.
  • Representation of “Hope” as a God-gifted Quality: The poet compares hope with a free and courageous bird that sings its wordless tune no matter what the situation is. This bird, as a silent companion, continues to preach the soul to stay steadfast and hopeful regardless of obstacles. Its song helps the devastated souls to regain their senses. By using the word “at all,” Dickenson shows that hope is everlasting, ever shining and undefeatable. She compares human struggle with the storm and illustrates that hope serves as a beacon of light in that storm. Towards the end, she represents her own miserable plight. She expresses that hope helped her survive the tests and trials of her life.
  • Major Themes in “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers: Hope is the major theme that runs throughout the poem. Emily says that hope resides in the hearts for good. It liberates us from despair and gives us the strength to move on. It only empowers us and in return demands nothing. Briefly, as the sole theme of this poem, hope has been personified to show its importance to the weak souls.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers

Writers and poets use literary devices to make their poetry comprehensible, beautiful and rich. Emily Dickenson also has used some literary devices to express her spiritual thoughts. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in the poem is given below.

  • Alliteration: It refers to the repetition of the same consonant sounds occurring close together in a row to create musical effects such as /h/ sound in “we have heard it in the chilliest land” where this sound has created a musical quality in the line.
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds such as the sound of /th/ in “the tune without the words” and the sound of /t/ in “that could abet the little bird.”
  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of the vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /i/ in “I’ve heard it in the chilliest land.”
  • Metaphor: There is one extended metaphor in the poem. Dickenson has compared hope with “feathers”/ “bird” which shows how it sings and gives courage to the spirit of a person.
  • Personification: When an inanimate object is given human characteristics or qualities, it is personified. In the first stanza, Dickenson considers hoping a preacher that keeps on preaching and never stops. It sings its silent song in the hearts of the men to fill them with spiritual power. In other words, she has personified hope in this poem.
  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things through five senses. It helps them to create a mental picture of the objects described. The poet has used images for the sense of sight such as, “bird”, “feathers”, “storm”, “land” and “sea.”
  • Symbol: Emily has used many symbols to show the powerful impact of hope in our lives. “Chilliest Sea” and “storm” symbolize struggles during trying times when hope is still there.

The analysis of these literary devices shows that Dickenson has made wonderful use of these literary devices to convey her message effectively.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Poetic devices are part of literary devices, but some are used only in poetry. Their use brings rhythm, continuity, depth and musical effects in poetry. The analysis of the devices used in the poem is stated below.

  • Stanza: A stanza is the poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in the poem, each having four lines.
  • Rhyme Scheme: The poem is structured into a quatrain and a sequence of three rhyming lines. Lines five to eight are the quatrain whereas nine to twelve are three lines. The rhyme scheme is ABCB.
  • Meter: The poet has used iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter alternatively in different lines. For example, “That perches in the soul —” is in iambic trimeter, while “And sings the tune without the words —” is in tetrameter.
  • Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza taken from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain, as well as each stanza, has four lines.

The analysis of these poetic devices shows that Dickenson has used these devices to create a melody with the rhythm in the poem while conveying the underlying message of hope.

Quotes to be Used

  1. This stanza can be quoted when preaching religious lessons or sermon. These lines can also be used in a speech to highlight the importance of being positive and hopeful.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.”

  1. This line could be used in a speech to pay tribute to a good singer.

“And sings the tune without the words.”