Emily Dickinson

Taylor Bingham. Introduction to Composition 110.

Her Life

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts. She attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley for one year. Throughout her life she left her home very little and had barely any visitors. The very few people she was in contact with influenced her poetry greatly. Reverend Charles Wadsworth was one of the people to impact Dickinson's poetry. It was not certain that this was a romantic relationship. Although she almost completely lived in isolation, she spent time with her family. Her sister lived in an isolation similar to her own and her brother lived next door with his wife. Another influence on her poetry was the metaphysical poets of the 17th century England. She admired Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and John Keats as poets. During her life she was not publicly recognized. On May 15,1886, Emily Dickinson died of kidney disease in Amherst, Massachusetts at the age of 56. After her death, nearly 1,800 poems were discovered. Today Emily Dickinson is one of the most famous poets and the homestead where she used to live is now a museum.

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.

My Analysis

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -


Hope is being symbolized as a bird that is always sitting on your soul.



And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -


Hope sings a song constantly to only you.



And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -

And sore must be the storm -




The Gale is a kind bird or hope that will come to you in rough times.



That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -


Only a terrible storm could hurt the bird that is your hope. This hope has comforted many people in hard times.



I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -


Hope will always be there, no matter what the situation.



Yet - never - in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of me.


Hope will never need anything in collateral, its just always going to be there to comfort you in hard times.

Critics Analysis

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.

What I Learned

In this poetry unit, I learned quite a bit. I learned about different periods of literature; especially naturalism and realism. I learned about different meters in poetry and different types of poetry. I also learned about different techniques used by poets in their poetry. Another thing I learned was a lot of background of many famous poets. Overall I feel like I have a much better understanding on everything to do with poetry.

Works Cited

Brand, Gerhard. "Emily Dickinson." Dictionary Of World Biography: The 19Th Century (2000): 1-5. Literary Reference Center. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.


"Emily Dickinson- Poet, Writer." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.


Faulkner, Howard. "Emily Dickinson." Critical Survey Of Poetry, Second Revised Edition (2002): 1-9. Literary Reference Center. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.


Poets.org. Academy of American Poets. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.


SparkNotes. SparkNotes. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.