Two Emily Dickinson Poems

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Comparing and Contrasting Poems

Did you know that Emily Dickinson wrote nearly 800 poems? And less than a dozen of those poems were published during her lifetime! If you want to read a great poem I’d suggest, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” and “It was not Death, For I Stood up”. Emily Dickinson wrote both poems, but they are vastly different in themes. The first poem “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” is an inspirational piece written about hope. The second piece “It was not Death, For I Stood up” is a slightly darker poem that talks about death. Even though the same author, Emily Dickinson, writes both poems, they differ in themes and tone.

First, both poems are similar because the same person wrote them. Dickinson wrote these and several other poems throughout her life. Second, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” and “It was not Death, For I Stood up” both loosely rhyme. “…And sweetest in the gale is heard/ And sore must be the storm/ That could abash the little bird” The words hear and bird rhyme. Also in “It was not Death, For I Stood up” words like “spar” and “despair” loosely rhyme. Third, both poems have a clear narrator or main character. In “It was not Death, For I Stood up”, the (narrator) main character is a person who has just lost a loved one. Because of this loss, She- the main character- cannot express her feeling in words. All of the pain, sorrow, and devastation that our main character is feeling can only “not” something. While in “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”, the main character tells us about how she has found hope everywhere and how that hope is like a bird. Although both of these pieces clearly have a narrator, who is also the main character, there are several differences in theme and tone.

The poem “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” deals with; as I have said before, hope. It talks about how hope sings like a bird. The last lines of the poem say: “Yet, never, in extremity/ It asked a crumb of me.” Dickinson is talking about how even in the time when she thought that there was no way through the dark night there was still hope. Somehow, that little thing, hope, was there and never has hope ever asked anything in return. This poem (in my opinion) is inspirational. It gives the reader hope, to do anything. The poem tells you that no matter where you are hope will be there singing to you. In spite of all the things that are, happing there still is hope; hope is never going to desert you. It matters not how depressed or what’s happing in your life right now hope will be there to help you. While reading, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers,” the “hope” in the poem, reminds me of God. Like “hope” in the piece, God is always there when you need him. While “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” gives the reader hope one kind of hope, I also think that “It was not Death, For I Stood up” gives the reader a different kind of hope.

The first time that I read “It was not Death, For I Stood up” was after the loss of someone whom I’d loved very much. The “hope” that I got from “It was not Death, For I Stood up” wasn’t the warm-happy hope that you feel when you read “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”, but it was a sad-understanding type of hope that said to me: ‘Hey, other people have felt what you are feeling… They survived and so will you.’ Like I said before the main theme in this poem is death, so isn’t it weird that I found hope in it? No, I think it’s not that weird, after hope is found “on the strangest sea”. “It was not Death, For I Stood up” deals with the emotions that the main character is going through after the loss of her loved one, it’s so hard for the narrator to tells us exactly what she is feeling. That is because the narrator, she, has so many conflicting emotions. Have you ever had a time where you couldn’t tell other what you were feeling, because you had so many emotions that differed from the next? Well, after my friend’s death I felt that way. Like in the poem I couldn’t...
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