“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers by 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.
This is one of Dickinson’s more famous poems, and it’s short and sweet. It utilizes a simple–yet beautiful–extended metaphor: hope is a bird. And this bird, she claims, resides in our souls and never stops singing its melody. The bird’s song is sweetest during harsh winds and storms, signifying that difficult days are when hope truly means the most.
She’s heard the bird in the worst of times (“in the chillest land” and “on the strangest sea”), and yet this bird has never “asked a crumb” of her, has never demanded to be fed. It’s self-sustaining and sings on in our hearts, warming us from the inside out, even in our darkest hours.
I love literature that explores the resilience of the human spirit, the stories or poems that ponder: where do we get our hope? Where do we get the strength to journey on? Despite this poem’s brevity, it explores those very questions.
However, I’ll be honest; I struggle a bit with the last two lines–the notion that hope demands nothing of us. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hope as the “desire for a particular thing to happen.” It’s a desire for something that isn’t concrete or hasn’t yet come to pass.
And sure–I love the image of a resilient little bird singing in our souls, rooting us on, keeping our spirits up. But we’ve all been there, haven’t we? A time in our life when something felt hopeless?
When I was nine years old, my dad was in a horrific car accident. He hit black ice and went over an embankment. He was ejected from his vehicle, broke his neck in two places, ruptured organs, and was close to death. At first the doctors said that if he lived, he’d likely be a quadriplegic. And of course I wanted him to live more than anything, but I couldn’t imagine him not doing all the things he loved ever again–playing in his basketball league, waterskiing in the summer, going on runs while I rode my little pink bike just ahead of him. At nine years old, those were thoughts that filled my head, because those things were such a huge part of who he was, the things that made him my dad.
Months went by, and he had numerous complications. But his neck surgery had been a success, and he slowly learned to walk again. There were so many times when things felt hopeless, but something I admire most about my dad is that he never gives up. He’s stubborn to a fault, and he never loses hope. Yet it’s a choice he makes every day, even now–years and years later–to carry on with a hopeful heart in spite of his chronic pain and ongoing health issues.
This is exactly why I would assert that maintaining hope and continuing onward in one’s endeavor, whatever it may be, is an act of courage–because that elusive thing we yearn for is not certain or guaranteed. Though the bird may always be singing, we still have to hear it and choose to embrace its song.
Jumpsuit: Monteau (similar here, here, and here) Blazer: Philosophy (similar here and here) Heels: Nine West (similar here and here) Earrings: Chanel Lip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte
I really loved the colorful jumpsuit I wore on Easter Sunday! It was chilly here in Portland and–though I briefly contemplated wearing a dress–I was so glad I chose something that kept my legs warm.
I’m a big fan of jumpsuits–they have a certain cool factor for sure, but probably what I enjoy most is I feel like I’m wearing pajamas! Granted, some of the more form-fitting ones can be a bit constricting, but the wide-legged variety like the one I wore on Easter is so comfortable. When you can merge comfort and fashion, it’s truly a win-win. This particular one was a TJ Maxx find, so I linked several similar striped options above.
I think jumpsuits can be a great alternative to dresses for events like bridal showers, birthday brunches, and tropical getaways. They come in so many fabrics and silhouettes that there are countless options available. Since it’s a one-piece, my advice from personal experience is to move around in it before you decide to buy it. I have a long torso for example, and sometimes I have to size up to accommodate that.
On Easter morning when the weather was even cooler, I paired it with a crisp white blazer (shown below), which I think is such a versatile piece for spring and summer. (Also, if anyone is wondering, the bunny ears are from Target!)
I’m excited about the next several blog posts I have in the works–I’ll be sharing some great local restaurants, what I wore to the theatre, and a new jewelry partnership! Stay tuned, and I wish you all a wonderful week!
4 thoughts on “Hope Is Where the Heart Is”
I enjoyed your literary analysis, particularly the last paragraph of it 🙂 happy Easter !
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it! 😊 It’s a poignant little poem and really made me consider how I’ve experienced hope in my own life ❤️
Hope as an act of courage – I like that slant (as I wonder sometimes if hope can actually be a dangerous thing). Have you seen Shawshank Redemption? “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things…” Love your bunny ears!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think hope in excess could be a dangerous thing—or similarly, not knowing when to let go of something because of unrealistic hopes?
I’ve seen that movie in parts, but never all the way through! I’ll add it to my “must watch” list. 😊📺