"Hope is like the thing with feathers"
This poem examines the rather abstract idea of hope, in the free
spirit of a bird. Emily uses brilliant imagery, and metaphor, to
help describe why she thinks that a bird is a fitting metaphor for
hope. The poem begins, saying that said bird, perches in the soul,
and sings. Emily says that it would take a powerful storm to
smother the birds song, using a storm as a symbol for hardships in
a persons life and the effect they can have on their hopes. I
think that the way Emily phrased her comparison is absolutely
perfect. Emily then goes on to say how the bird continues to sing,
never stopping, yet never asks a single thing in return. The way
Emily captures such a complex and amazing emotion, is fantastic.
Though neither her language nor her themes in this poem are as
complicated, and explosive as they would become in her later
works, we still find a few of the verbal shocks that so
characterize Emily’s mature style, such as her eloquent
phraseology, excellent vocabulary, and stunning insight. Emily was
a truly gifted writer, and I am positive that this poem will
continue to stand the test of time.
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.
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