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Dickinson’s Poetry

Emily Dickinson

“ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—...”

“Success is counted sweetest...”

“I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

Summary

The speaker describes hope as a bird (“the thing with feathers”) that perches in the soul. There, it sings wordlessly and without pause. The song of hope sounds sweetest “in the Gale,” and it would require a terrifying storm to ever “abash the little Bird / That kept so many warm.” The speaker says that she has heard the bird of hope “in the chillest land— / And on the strangest Sea—”, but never, no matter how extreme the conditions, did it ever ask for a single crumb from her.

Form

Like almost all of Dickinson’s poems, “ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—...” takes the form of an iambic trimeter that often expands to include a fourth stress at the end of the line (as in “And sings the tune without the words—”). Like almost all of her poems, it modifies and breaks up the rhythmic flow with long dashes indicating breaks and pauses (“And never stops—at all—”). The stanzas, as in most of Dickinson’s lyrics, rhyme loosely in an ABCB scheme, though in this poem there are some incidental carryover rhymes: “words” in line three of the first stanza rhymes with “heard” and “Bird” in the second; “Extremity” rhymes with “Sea” and “Me” in the third stanza, thus, technically conforming to an ABBB rhyme scheme.

Commentary

This simple, metaphorical description of hope as a bird singing in the soul is another example of Dickinson’s homiletic style, derived from Psalms and religious hymns. 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 (sing), how it reacts to hardship (it is unabashed in the storm), where it can be found (everywhere, from “chillest land” to “strangest Sea”), and what it asks for itself (nothing, not even a single crumb). Though written after “Success is counted sweetest,” this is still an early poem for Dickinson, and neither her language nor her themes here are as complicated and explosive as they would become in her more mature work from the mid-1860s. Still, we find a few of the verbal shocks that so characterize Dickinson’s mature style: the use of “abash,” for instance, to describe the storm’s potential effect on the bird, wrenches the reader back to the reality behind the pretty metaphor; while a singing bird cannot exactly be “abashed,” the word describes the effect of the storm—or a more general hardship—upon the speaker’s hopes.

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The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson crossword

by crosswords1, September 28, 2013

This time, we got the following crossword puzzle clue : The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson that also known as The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson 5 letters . First, we gonna look for more hints to the The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson crossword puzzle . Then we will collect all the require information and for solving The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson crossword . In the final, we get all the possible answers for the this crossword puzzle definition.
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Hope poem analysis

by Nerradnahc, February 21, 2014

What is hope? Hope is what gives someone the feeling that they still can succeed even when everything is against them. It gives someone the will to go on even when there is only a small chance. In the poem “Hope” the poet Emily Dickinson describes hope as an never ending greatness that “perches in the soul”, it’s inside you and keeps you warm. Hope can not be put down easily and never ask for anything even in tough times. In this poem, Emily Dickinson describes hope as a lively, confident bird that go against chillest land and stra... Read more

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Biblical Allusion

by 14elusky, April 13, 2014

I think it's possible that this poem has a biblical allusion when it refers to the bird. Dickinson was raised in the transcendentalist era, and there was a lot of criticism oriented around the bible. The allusion could be that Jesus was said to give bread to people of poverty. He then told them not to eat the bread without giving the crumbs to the bird. I think this relates to the poem because man and nature was seen as one, while now they are considered to be vastly divided.

I'm not religious so I have no idea if this is correct or ... Read more

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4 out of 5 people found this helpful

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