Emily Dickinson; “Hope” is the thing with feathers
In the poem “‘Hope is the thing with feathers-,” nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson eloquently expresses her perspective of the uplifting, endless, fearless and altruistic qualities of hope. To help readers fully grasp her definition of the abstract feeling of “hope,” Dickinson ingeniously defines hope as the thing with feathers –a bird- through a use of diction, a series of imagery and a unique structure.
The characters of hope are evident throughout the poem as Dickinson carefully uses simple but powerful diction to compare the abstract feeling of hope to an animate being. In the first stanza, to present her view of how “hope” do something to human beings, the poet uses a series of verbs to describes hope as a bird that “perches” in our heart, “sings” the tune, and never “stops.” These actions emphasize hope’s characters as the feeling that will always uplift our spirits. Moreover, the repetition of the word “and” when describing those characters of hope “That perches in the soul- / And sings the tune without the words- / And never stops –at all-” (line 3-4) also conveys the ever-lasting quality of hope that affects on our lives.
Another element in which the poet uses to express “hope” is her use of imagery. In the second stanza, to emphasize that hope will always stay in our souls even when we face any extreme hardships, Dickinson uses the image of a bird singing warmly in a severe storm. In addition, the poet also uses the auditory imageries of the bird’s melody in “the chilliest land” (line 9) and “the strangest sea” (line 10) to express that even in the worst-case scenario hope still remains within our souls. Furthermore, Dickinson also uses a concrete image of a crumb to emphasize the altruistic trait of hope as well because even in extremity, “it [never] ask[s] a crumb – of me” (line 12).
In terms of structure, beneath the simple words and visual imagery, the poet presents the endless quality of hope through the repeated use of punctuations –dashes- at almost every lines of the three stanzas poem. In this case, not only the use of the certain punctuation help the readers have more understanding of the poet’s perspective, but also creates the never-ending sentence that keeps on flowing Dickinson’s ideal of hope.
In this poem, Dickinson does a very effective job of using simple diction but full of imagery to emphasize the nature of hope. Throughout the neatly selection of language, imagery, and distinctive structure of this poem, the poet sharply defines her view of hope as the altruistic, fearless bird that will always uplift our spirits under every circumstances.