Emily Dickinson Poem Analysis

Here is one Emily Dickinson's poems, complete with analysis; "Hope is the Thing With Feathers."

Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the Thing With Feathers," is the VI part of a much larger poem called "Life." The poem examines the abstract idea of hope in the free spirit of a bird. Dickinson uses imagery, metaphor, to help describe why "Hope is the Thing With Feathers."

In the first stanza, "Hope is the Thing With Feathers," Dickinson uses the metaphorical image of a bird to describe the abstract idea of hope. Hope, of course, is not an animate thing, it is inanimate, but by giving hope feathers, she begins to create an image hope in our minds. The imagery of feathers conjures up hope in itself. Feathers represent hope because feathers enable you to fly and offer the image of flying away to a new hope, a new beginning. In contrast, broken feathers or a broken wing grounds a person, and conjures up the image of needy person who has been beaten down by life. Their wings have been broken and they no longer have the power to hope.

In the second stanza, "That perches in the soul," Dickinson continues to use the imagery of a bird to describe hope. Hope, she is implying, perches or roosts in our soul. The soul is the home for hope. It can also be seen as a metaphor. Hope rests in our soul the way a bird rests on its perch.



In the third and fourth stanzas,

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.

Dickinson uses the imagery of a bird's continuous song to represent eternal hope. Birds never stop singing their song of hope. The fifth stanza "And sweetest in the gale is heard" describes the bird's song of hope as sweetest in the wind. It conjures up images of a bird's song of hope whistling above the sound of gale force winds and offering the promise that soon the storm will end.

Dickinson uses the next three lines to metaphorically describe what a person who destroys hope feels like.

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

A person who destroys hope with a storm of anger and negativity feels the pain they cause in others. Dickinson uses a powerful image of a person abashing the bird of hope that gives comfort and warmth for so many. The destroyer of hope causes pain and soreness that hurts them the most.

In the first line of the last set of stanzas "I've heard it in the chillest lands," Dickinson offers the reader another reason to have hope. It is heard even in the coldest, saddest lands. Hope is eternal and everywhere. The birds song of hope is even heard "And on the strangest sea." Hope exists for everyone.

In the last two lines, Dickinson informs us that the bird of hope asks for no favor or price in return for its sweet song.

Yet never in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

Hope is a free gift. It exists for all of us. All we must do is not clip the wings of hope and let it fly and sing freely. Its song can be heard over the strangest seas, coldest lands, and in the worst storms. It is a song that never ends as long as we do not let it.

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