Poets and writers describe nature for artistic purposes to show how significant its role in people’s lives. Hope is a Thing with Feathers is one of Emily Dickinson’s most famous poems. Within the poem, the author uses an extended metaphor that likens the idea of hope to a feathered bird that is constantly in the soul of every person. The image of hope is conveyed through the bird, which relates the humans and nature. The author touches upon the themes of the ultimate hope guiding people and the connection between the human soul and nature.
From the literature and poetic perspectives, birds’ images play an essential role in creating a particular atmosphere of the work. Birds can portend some event, guide the hero or, on the contrary, lead characters astray. The bird image is usually implemented to change the fate of the hero. Dickenson creates the narrator of the poem as a person who is closely connected with nature. The emotions are expressed through the image of a small bird: “Hope is the thing with feathers” (Dickinson 1). Even during challenging periods, the narrator manages to see the little hope in the heart: “And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —” (Dickinson 9). Therefore, the only thing that will never leave people in their lives is hope which is conveyed through the image of the bird emphasizing the connection between people and nature.
The author uses symbolism, extended metaphor, and syntax to reflect the mentioned above themes. The poem has many symbolic elements, including the “storm” and “crumbs”. The storm is correlated with the idea of life hardships: “It asked a crumb—of Me” (Dickinson 12). The crumbs symbolize human efforts in striving for happiness. The author addresses the connection between the human mental state and nature: “Hope” is the thing with feathers — / That perches in the soul” (Dickinson 1, 2). The direct comparison of the soul and bird shows the strong connection between humans and nature. The whole poem can be considered as an extended metaphor. The author compares the people’s emotions with a tune that has no words: “And sings the tune without words” (Dickinson 3). The metaphor is extended because the whole poem is based on primary and secondary comparisons.
Another vital aspect of the poem is its syntax structure, implying a better reflection of themes. The dashes, parentheses, and letters capitalization contribute to a specific rhythm and metical breaks. The author implements such pauses to highlight the essence of particular words and provoke the reader’s emotions and immersion effect: “And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard” (Dickinson 5). In this poem fragment, the author uses many dashes: “- And never stops – at all -” (Dickinson 4). Such a technique creates pauses within one line developing the theme of never-ending hope. The specific rhythm and word choice allow the reader to gain the feeling that nothing can break this hope. Thus, the theme is masterfully connected with the syntax of the poem.
The poem reflects the idea of the unconditional nature of hope. From the author’s perspective, people can find salvation in uniting with nature. To express this idea, the author uses various stylistic devices. Nature is a vital source of moral rehabilitation for people. Therefore, the poem’s author states that the emotions of people and nature are interrelated and that there is always restorative hope even in difficult times.
Dickinson, Emily. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Gibbs Smith, 2019.