Emily Dickinson “Hope” is the thing with feathers -
Introduction Ever since I first watched the movie The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock, I have had a bit of an aversion to the flying creatures. Circling seagulls set me off! But, when I feel most frightened by my friends, the birds, I need to read Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the thing with feathers” because analysis of this poem reminds me that, symbolically speaking, birds can be equated to HOPE!
“Hope” is the thing with feathers - “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.
Any Questions? • Why do you think Dickinson compares hope to a bird? • Birds remind me of my Grandma Fern; she loves bird watching! • Why do you think Dickinson uses the words “the thing with feathers” instead of “a bird”? • Paraphrase the last stanza. What is Dickinson saying about her own experience with hope? • I predict that Hitchcock’s movie will be updated and filmed again.
Concrete Images • Feathers • Tune • Gale/Storm • Bird • Land • Sea
Abstract Images • Hope • Soul
Analysis of Images • Hope is a bird – small and delicate, yet constant and indomitable. • Hope perches on the soul and continuously, even in storms and gales, sings a wordless tune. • Hope is heard in the chilliest land and on the strangest sea.
Exact Rhyme • Heard and bird • Storm and warm • Sea, extremity, and me
Slant Rhyme • Soul and all
Theme • You should never lose hope. • Hope perches. • Hope never stops – at all – • Hope is always available, even during stormy times in your life. • Hope never asks for anything in return: “Yet never, in Extremity,/It asked a crumb – of Me.”
Figurative Language • Metaphor = Hope is the thing with feathers. • Personification = Hope perches, sings, and asks. • Consonance = the “s” sound throughout the poem. This reinforces the calming effect of hope’s constancy. It might represent the sound of a slight wind holding that bird in flight. • Assonance = sore, storm, and warm. The “o” sound suggests the “long” trying times in life. • Alliteration = strangest sea…again the calming “s” sound.
Conclusion “Life is for the birds!” This idiom usually has a negative connotation associated with it, but not after reading Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the thing with feathers.” According to Dickinson, life should be for the birds because birds, metaphorically speaking, represent hope. Hence, life is for those who hope!