"Hope" is the thing with feathers

Emily Dickinson

"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.

About the Author

Emily Dickinson was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Throughout her life, Emily rarely left her home and had few visitors. However, the people who she was in contact with had a huge impact on her poetry. By the 1860s, Emily lived in almost complete isolation, although she did spend a handful of time with her family. Dickinson's poetry was heavily influenced by the Metaphysical poets of the 1600s England, The Book of Revelation, and the Puritan New England town in which she grew up. Emily Dickinson wrote many poems throughout her lifetime, yet she was not recognized for her wonderful pieces of literature until after she died in 1886, when her family discovered forty hand bound poetry books with about 1,800 poems.

Interpretation of the Poem

To paraphrase this poem, first, it is important to realize that the author, Emily Dickinson, is using a simile to compare hope as a bird, "the thing with feathers" (line 1). Even when there are no words to sing, the bird continues to create a song; hope is always there. Just like the small bird sings in the face of a strong wind and a powerful storm, despite all the troubles one faces, hope stays alive and comforts them. Dickinson uses the "crumb" (line 12) to show that hope asks for nothing in return.

The overall tone and attitude of this poem is pretty optimistic.


  • Hope is always present.
  • Hope never asks for anything in return.
  • Hope can be motivation and inspiration.
  • Always have hope.
Owl City - Here's Hope (lyrics) NEW SONG 2012

"Here's Hope"

Above is a song by Owl City, and this song has a similar theme to the poem, which both revolve around the idea of hope: hope is always present.
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