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Symbolism and Metaphor

Symbolism and Metaphor

“Hope is the Thing with Feathers”

Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” revolves around hope. Dickinson reveals that hope leads human beings far away from despair by encouraging them to endure even during times of extreme hardships. She illustrates that hope never takes us away but gives more: it is the thing that gives us endurance, fortitude, and courage. She also explains that hope is greatly mysterious, but it can be visualized as a tangible thing as people share their experiences and beliefs (Cripe, 2016). Emily uses the metaphor and imagery: a bird that sings persistently and constantly even when the surrounding conditions are harsh. Further, the persona explains that the bird sings even though there is no word to sing. The singing- of hope- keeps us warm during difficult times.

The theme in this poem is highlighted through various symbolic vocabularies. For instance, the persona uses words like “the little bird” and “sing” to describe hope as an innocent little bird that is always singing in the human heart. Furthermore, she continues to use phrases like “abash,” “chillest land,” “strangest sea,” and “in extremity” to show that hope remains consistent in our hearts even in aggressive and ferocious times. Additionally, in the phrase “a crumb” (Dickinson, 1910), Dickinson continues to add that hope- the bird- never asks for anything in return, even after helping us overcome hardships and challenges of life (Ali et al., 2016).

In conclusion, the poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” is a piece of encouragement that tells us to be strong and endure life’s adversities, like the innocent little bird that sings persistently and endlessly. The poem sounds like a sweet lyrical birdsong. Also, the symbolic and metaphoric elements of the poem deepen one’s understanding of life, which is challenging and beautiful at the same time; therefore, I would recommend this poem to friends.


Ali, H., Asghar Bhatti, I., & Hassan Shah, A. (2016). Stylistics Analysis of the Poem “Hope is The Thing with Feathers.” World Journal of Research and Review3(5), 19. Retrieved 21 January 2022, from

Cripe, L. (2016). Hope Is the Thing With Feathers. JAMA315(3), 265.

Dickinson, E. (1910). The poem “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”. Retrieved 20 January 2022, from


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Symbolism and Metaphor

Symbolism and Metaphor

Symbolism and Metaphor in Four Poets’ Work: Brooks, Dickinson, Frost, and Hughes

By the due date assigned, post a one- or two-paragraph response of at least 150-200 words to the Discussion Area. By the end of Week 2, comment on at least two of your classmates’ submissions.


Choose a poem to analyze from this week’s assigned reading list (see below). We are reading and discussing the works of Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes.
Create a written response of a paragraph or two of at least 150-200 words.
You may use the following questions to develop a response to your poem, or you may discuss another more appropriate literary element (e.g., imagery, characterization, theme) as best fits your selection:
What are some of the key symbols or metaphors in the poem, and how are they used to convey meaning to the reader?
How do these elements enrich the poem and deepen your understanding of its themes?
What is your reaction to the poem’s content and language? Would you recommend this poem to friends?

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