Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hope is the thing with feathers...

The Emily Dickinson poem below is my mother's personal mantra and my favorite Dickinson poem as well. Have a look and read the question that follows:

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.

Please pick one of the metaphors in this poem (essentially, you can pick any line here) and explain your interpretation of it. Please also explain to what extent you agree/disagree with Dickinson's interpretation of hope. Feel free to incorporate any personal stories to back up your thoughts.

27 Comments:

Blogger CecilyJ said...

“And sings the tune--without the words." I think that this metaphor is saying that hope can’t be seen or represented, like words can be, but it is always there. It never stops singing, and carries the same tune, for your entire life. It is always there for you to fall back on. I agree with Dickinson’s interpretation of hope, because hope never asks for anything in return. It is always there giving when you need something to rely on. When no one else is there, there is always hope that it will get better, because eventually, it can’t get any worse. No matter who you are, or where you are, hope will always accompany you.

3:44 PM  
Blogger amberh said...

I enjoyed the part of the poem “And sore must be the storm/ That could abash the little bird/ That kept so many warm”. If the little bird represents hope, then a storm does have to be very strong to wipe hope out completely. Hope has kept people enjoying their life and has warmed many hearts. When my grandmother got breast cancer the storm was very strong, yet my mom never lost hope that everything would turn out all right. That little bird of hope has warmed her heart and has not been abashed.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Lizzie A said...

I, like Amber, really liked the line(s): And the sweetest in the gale is heard;/And sore must be the storm/That could abash the little bird/That kept so many warm. I also agree that the little bird is hope. I think that what Emily Dickinson is trying to get across by these lines is that it takes a LOT to "abash the little bird", and so hope will go on. I agree with her on that, because no matter how much it seems like all is lost, you find that all you need to do is open your eyes, and everything looks a little brighter (more hopeful).

5:07 PM  
Blogger Lizzie A said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:07 PM  
Blogger umbertok said...

I do slightly agree with Emily Dickinson’s interpretations of hope. I agree most with the last two lines. The part, “Yet, never, in extremity, / It asked a crumb of me”, seems to speak to me. I think it’s trying to say that hope comes to those in need and never asks for anything. The lines suggest that hope is being taken advantage of by the people who need it. I am starting to think Emily Dickinson is a misanthrope. A misanthrope writing to show the world just how much better she is than everyone else.

6:06 PM  
Blogger emily k said...

“Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul…” this line caught my attention. It exemplifies that hope is not concrete and can escape at any moment with out a word. To me feathers seem silent and allow a bird to float away. The little bird is hope that is naïve to the pains and sorrows of the world looking for no approval. I agree with this because hope seems to come and go and is from both extremes, shallow and uncertain, and profound and definite.

6:57 PM  
Blogger EmilyL said...

The metaphor, “And sings the tune--without the words, And never stops at all,” is a great description of hope. The song of hope does not have any words because it is only there to guide you, not tell you directly where to go in life. Hope is that soothing background music that pushes you through those tough times in life. I agree with Dickinson in that it “never stops at all” because hope is always there; if it weren’t it wouldn’t be hope. That wonderful, soft, humming tune in the background of every situation is hope, which pulls me through. I agree with Dickinson on her views of hope and that it isn’t there to protect you and stand out for all to see, it is for those who listen very carefully to hear that soft background music humming in their ears.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Jordan L said...

I picked the lines "Yet, never, in extremity/ It asked a crumb of me". I think this is saying that everyone has hope. The hope is always willing to help each and everyone of us. It is one of those things that can be a saver to us even in the most extreme and hard times and it does not ask for anything back in return. I agree with this interpretation of Hope. I believe that we all have some hope in something. It is all in us and can help us even in the most brutal times. It is stronger than even the greatest "storms" and never has to be repayed. I completely agree with this poem.

8:51 PM  
Blogger karlak said...

I liked the lines, "I've heard it in the chillest land, and on the strangest sea." These lines are saying that hope is everywhere, even in the darkest corners there will always be the light that is hope, and even when people think that there could never be any hope there is. I think that hope starts out small, but the more it is beleived in, the more hope there is. Also, the lines I chose remind me of Pandora's Box, and how even though all the evil things in the world were let out, there was still hope left in the bottom of the box. As long as we have hope we can overcome many obstacles in our lives. I totally agree with Emily Dickison's interpretation of hope. It really made me think of hope from a different perspective.

1:49 PM  
Blogger MollyR said...

I, like Karla, like the lines, “I’ve heard it in the chillest land, / And on the stangest sea.” I think these lines are saying that hope can be found anywhere. It doesn’t matter where a person is or who they are. Hope can inspire anyone. It can come in strange situations. Hope comes when it knows a person needs it. All a person has to do is look for it. It will never go away if a person doesn’t want it to. I agree with this poem. It is a great description of hope.

2:34 PM  
Blogger ChanningA said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers--That perches in the soul,"
I like this line in the poem by Emily Dickenson because it starts the poem off with the reader wonering and thinking. I think Emily is trying to say that hope is always in the heart, perched upon it. I think she is trying to say that no matter how hard anyone tries, hope will always be there, helping each and every one of us along the way. I agree with Emily, that hope is always going to be there and it gives us all a reason to keep going even in the hardest of times. When the hard times come along, they do not matter because the bird of hope can fight off the worst of monsters.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Michael M. said...

I like the first line, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” I see this as being the metaphor of a bird. Birds are everywhere and are there to cheer you up. Like hope, birds are always around but sometimes you don’t notice them. This poem is trying to tell us to have hope even if we don’t think we do. I agree with Dickenson because people do run out of hope but the more optimism you have the better off you are.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

The metaphor I liked most is when Emily Dickinson said, "Hope is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul...". I liked this metaphor because she is saying that we all have hope in us. Its just the matter of when we let it loose, or let it fly away (hint: "thing with feathers"). Another metaphor that I thought was unique, was when she said, "And the sweetest in the gale is heard;". By saying this I believe that she is saying that you have to look on the bright sideof things, like the glass is half full. You can't concentrate on all the negatives in life, or there is no hope for life. I think we all distinguish hope in one way or another by wanting something bad enough, or when we care about someone or something to the extent to where we undeniably optimistic. I would have to agree with Emily Dickinson's idea of hope. She describes in a way that not very many others could.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Brittany F said...

"Yet, never, in extremity, / It asked a crumb of me". Out of all the lines within this poem, I felt the strongest connection with this one. Through this line I believe it sums up the essence of hope. Hope is not a tangible thing it's something many of us rely on to get through each passing day. With that in mind, this line is saying that even in the toughest times of life, hope is always there as a crutch or a shoulder to lean on without asking for anything in return. It's comforting to know such a thing exists. I most definitely agree with Dickinson's interpretation of hope. I think that the way she describes it as an untouchable but easily attainable "thing" is right on the money. Also the way she talks about how it keeps people warm and is accessible even in the darkest times brings me a unique comfort that I never realized hope had until reading this poem.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Scott A said...

I like the metaphor "And sings the tune- without the words." the most. This metaphor suggests that while hope is always around, at times, it may be hard to find in times of trouble. This line also shows how hope can help everyone, everyone needs hope and all you need to know is where to look to find it.

7:27 PM  
Blogger JasonW1 said...

The first line is this poem is, "Hope is the thing with feathers--That perches in the soul". This line in the poem is the one that I understood the most. I interpreted this line as Emily Dickenson saying that no matter what happens in life or the hardships that you go through, you will always have hopes and dreams. I think that she was saying that you should try to reach your hopes and dreams. I think she refereed to hope as a bird because hope can be something that can make you sore to great heights.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Hadley B. said...

I, as well as Cecily like the metaphor "And sings the tune--without the words." I think that is means that hope is such a strong thing that it doesnt need words to be represented. It is so powerful, no words can even describe it, yet you can always feel it and know when you are in the presence of hope. I would have to agree with Dickinson's interpretation of hope becasue i essentially feel the same way about it. Hope is never a bad thing. You can never blame hope for the outcome of something. If it happens, it happens. Hope is there to benefit you not harm you or ask anything of you as the poem says.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Alyssa W. said...

"Hope is a thing with feathers/ That perches in the soul," These first few lines of the poem reached out to me from start to finish. Hope is something that will always lie in everyone no matter what you believe. Everyone believes and strives for something. The first line about the feathers stood out to me as an inference of they way hope enlightens the soul and brings a light in our darkest hours of need. I agree with Dickinson’s view of hope considering I understand the poem correctly. To me she is stating that hope always surrounds us but it is not always dependable. My view on it is that you cannot rely on hope alone. A person has to have the drive and willingness to pursue their own dreams, hope just gives us an inspiration. If the only thing you have is hope it will crush you because you will never conquer your goals.

7:46 PM  
Blogger TylerM4 said...

“I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea” is my pick for best lines and I agree with the people that say that these lines signify that hope can be found anywhere. I also think that hope is never lost either it is just out there in YOUR own sea and we must not let our hope get stranded out at sea. Partially because a rescue team costs a lot of money these days, but also we need all hope with us at all times.

7:54 PM  
Blogger AdamB said...

"And sings the tune--without the words". This is a metaphor describing how so many people no what it means yet it says nothing to them. When a song gets stuck in your head you keep singing untill it gets passed to your bestfriend so has the song also stuck in his head. Hope is contagious. Emily Dickinson also describes a storm which I believe that represents all the hard times in a life. When the weights becomes heavier hope is almost crushed. Hope appears when all is lost and all it asks is for that person to try or in this case a "crumb".

8:02 PM  
Blogger shadeh said...

"I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;"
To me, this line means that hope can be found anywhere. Wherever on land, and even far out at sea, this line gives the possibility of hope in every situation. I completely agree with this line because I think that even if you loose everything in the world and even if you are going through the hardest time in your life you always have your hope to guide you through! Hope is one of the most important things to hold on to throughout life because it can keep you moving at times!

8:20 PM  
Blogger JBeckmann1 said...

I agree with Emily L. I also liked the sentence "And sings the tune--without the words, And never stops at all." As Emily was saying, the song does not have any words because it guiding you in a direct path, but it has a rhythm that guides you to where you wanna go in life or in sports. I agree with Dickinson that the song never stops at all, because I believe that there is always hope in whatever you do, and you have to decide to look for it or not.

8:52 PM  
Blogger BillM said...

“Hope never stops at all.” I look at hope as a sense of confidence. In having hope myself, I relate it to wanting or “hoping” for something that I believe to be achievable or obtainable. I hope for good things to happen in my life and use that to motivate myself to work hard and reach my wishful dreams that I have for myself. Never give up hope!

10:27 PM  
Blogger JLeadem1 said...

The metaphor that I had found to be the most powerful was the quote: “Hope is a thing with feathers,” for I think it can mean many things to many people, for what it means to me is that hope is something that can stay in your heart or leave just as quick, yet that it is also something that can lift your soul to incredible heights, but most importantly this quote means that hope is a way to be free, free to live a life of certainty not doubt, courage not fear, and joy not dread. When I had read Emily Dickinson’s poem I found it to reflect many views that I have in that hope is always in our souls and that it will always shine in the darkest and coldest of places. But the main reason why I agree with this poem so much has to do with the fact that she promotes an idea that should be obvious to all of us and that is that it doesn’t take much to be hopeful and that you don’t have to pay for something as priceless as hope.

4:33 AM  
Blogger abmunguia said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers...and sings the tune--without the words, and never stops at all." I think this part of the poem means that hope is something that goes beyond possible boundaries, and that no one is telling you where you should stop going for your goal, and thta only you can make it happen.

6:18 PM  
Blogger JohnM said...

"And sore must be the storm/ That could abash the little bird/ That kept so many warm." could be a metaphor for the way society mistreats genuine and honest citizens. For example, how the mideval church did not acknowledge Galileo's discovery of the heliocentric model of the solar system. Galileo was a very religious man, but the church threatened to excommunicate him on account of his theory. His discovery changed astronomy forever, but "the storm" quickly "abashed" his theory that would enlighten so many. Sorry, but I don't agree with Amber or Lizzie. I think that Dickinson is trying to say that our hope is very fragile like a "little bird" and that many things in this world can take our hope away ("the storm").

6:48 PM  
Blogger lukes said...

"Hope is a thing with feathers..." this line jumped out to me. It symbolizes hope with a bird. It can be beautiful like and angel and soar in the clouds and be respected by many and wanted by all. It can bring up your spirits and make you feel good. On the other hand, hope can be like a volture. Hated by all and all fear it. It can be ugly when it lets you down and lets you fall to the dirt. "Hope is a thing with feathers"

1:52 PM  

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