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"hope” Is a Thing with Feathers - by Emily Dickinson

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Deyjhanna Exum

World Lit I

November 2014

Poetry Explication

““Hope” is A thing With Feathers” Explication

Emily Dickinson's “ “Hope” is a thing with Feather” is about someone feeding a bird. In the mist of feeding the bird the speaker goes on to to think about how birds go through life. He or she then ties all of their thoughts into feeling that this animal is equivalent to hope. The author uses personification and manages to use metaphors to go into details about the bird and a unique use of end rhyme to set the tone through out the stanzas. This poems theme is stating hope can be as small as something like a little bird but as long as you have it, it can be the biggest thing that gets one through life.

In this poem Dickinson manages to give the title of the whole entire poem “ “Hope” is a thing with Feathers”(dickinson) , which actually by itself is personification. It is personification because hope by itself is not actually a thing with feathers. Hope by itself is an emotion. She gives this emotion life tying it in comparison to a bird. By giving this emotion life like qualities it creates a different kind of tone for this particular poem being that the whole poem is based off of hope. The type of tone it creates is a peaceful kind of feeling that I will go into depth about later on . The poems goes on about the many things this little bird goes through but yet it never even “asked a crumb”(dickinson) from anyone in extremity. Not only is the title personification it is also a metaphor. The title itself is a comparison between hope and “a thing with feathers” referred to as a bird later in the poem.

Throughout this poem the author uses a form of end rhyme. Although the rhymes are not close together , they are spaced out to within a verse to give the poem a different kind of flow. The flow this poem creates is not smooth , in fact it is a unique pause through out every other sentence . For instance “And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - And sore must be the storm - That could abash the little Bird ,That kept so many warm - “ (dickinson) in this passage the end rhymes are clear to see, heard and bird , storm and warm, but the way they are place in this verse one would have to read it a certain way to get that pause effect that was created by the way the end rhymes are set up. If one was to read the passage to quickly it would not quite sound right . The way dickinson has the flow set up gives the reader a chance to actually visualize all that is being said so that as the reader one is able to grasp a better understanding what dickinson is pointing out here and through out the rest of the poem.

Futhermore there is a hint of symbolism in this poem as well. The bird represents hope and freedom. As the author states the bird sores through storms although they may keep us warm “it could abash the little bird”(dickinson) but yet the little bird continues to fly through it all even the “chillest



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