‘Hope’ is the Thing with Feathers Poem Summary & Line by Line Explanation


Emily Dickinson metaphorically speaks of Hope as a bird with feathers. She inspires the readers to have hope. As the Dutch proverb says, “As long as there’s life, there’s hope”. The poem is divided into three stanzas. The rhyme scheme for the 

  1. First stanza-  abcd
  2. Second stanza- abab
  3. Third stanza- abbb

First Stanza

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

The poet speaks of hope as a thing with feathers. She implies that it settles in a person’s soul. It sings a tune but without any words, this is a rather remarkable implication that although hope is cardinal, it is the actions that make a story successful. The tune is hope and the words are the actions. Hope is forever. To be hopeful is to be alive.

Second Stanza

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

Hope is always singing, but it sounds the sweetest when the wind gets rougher. The storm rages and the song sweetens. When life gets tough, it is hoped that serves as a ray of light in the storm of darkness. When everything turns somber, hope is all one holds onto. It is what keeps one moving forward. Hope provides a safe haven for many people. It would take a lot for a storm to weaken hope. 

Third Stanza

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Here the poet says that she has witnessed hope in the most adverse events, and yet it has never asked for even a tiny part of a person’s self. Everything in life comes with a price, except hope. It comes from within. Hope strengthens one against all extremities of life and acts as an unsung hero.