‘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.
Emily Dickinson was born in Massachusettes. Though she belonged to a well-knit family, she spent most of her time secluded. She was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. Only after her death in 1886, Lavinia, Emily’s younger sister discovered the collection of poems and her work became public. Her first collection was published in 1890. The unaltered collection made to shelves in 1955 in the book The Poems of Emily Dickinson.
Most of Dickinson’s poem have iambic trimeter, ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ is no different. This style modifies and breaks up the rhythmic flow with long dashes indicating pauses.
This poem is a metamorphic description of hope as a bird singing melodious tunes. The speaker describes ‘hope’ as a bird. Our hope rests in our soul and sings consistently rhythmic tunes.
The song is sung by ‘Hope’ is the sweetest in the Gale. It is in no power of the storm to abash the little bird that kept so many warm. Though the bird can’t exactly be ‘abashed’, metamorphically the speaker describes how a hardship can destroy the speaker’s hopes.
The speaker heard the tunes of the bird in the coldest land, and across the Sea, but in no extreme conditions did the bird ask for a breadcrumb. Metamorphically, the speaker describes how he/she has always kept their hopes tight in the most difficult situations. There wasn’t any need to feed hope with anything false, or the need to support a losing hope.