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My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Speaking of Metaphors...

The Emily Dickinson poem below is my mother's personal mantra and my favorite Dickinson poem as well. Have a look and read the question that follows:

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.

Please pick one of the metaphors in this poem (essentially, you can pick any line here) and explain your interpretation of it. Please also explain to what extent you agree/disagree with Dickinson's interpretation of hope. Feel free to incorporate any personal stories to back up your thoughts.

37 Comments:

Blogger clay w said...

"That perches in the soul,": This line strikes me because it compares hope to a bird, something which is not often done. When a bird perches, it very lightly lands on whatever it is that it is going to perch itself upon. Though lightly landing, the bird stands fast with extreme balance, and it will never fall out. Birds have a sense of balance in the subconscious because they can fall asleep in a tree without falling off the branch. In the same way, hope comes lightly and gently into our lives, and though it lands very delicately, it stands fast. Hope can never leave us once it has landed, or perched, in our souls. I agree with her view of hope in that when she says "sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird," she uses the word abash, meaning to embarass or shame, rather than using a word meaning to cast out. Even in the "sore storm," the bird may be abashed but it is not banished. Hope can be found even in the darkest and scariest times, even when it seems to be lost.

(I'm the first to post! woot)

3:10 PM  
Blogger mackenzieL said...

"I've heard it in the chillest land, and on the strangest sea;"

As Clay said, hope cannot be "abashed or banished", and this is essentially what I think these lines are saying. Hope is never gone, even in the chillest land or the strangest sea where it feels like nothing good can enter there. So I guess it's like kindergarten.

Remember that first day in kindergarten? I walked in, where thirty other kids stood shaking on the "alphabet carpet" just as badly as I was. This was a chilling land where no hope could penetrate. Ok, maybe it wasn't that bad. Actually, it wasn't. Pretty soon I began playing with some of the other kids and I began to hear the little bird sing agian...I had just forgotton how to listen for him. Hope never stops singing.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Ms. Kakos said...

I like Clay's interpretation of hope as weightless without being light. But I think this weightlessness can be frustrating, too. The perching makes me think of something just beyond our reach and far beyond our grasp. Stretching for it leaves us fragile, and so sometimes our desperation collapses in on itself instead.

And on that note, have a nice evening everybody!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Monique R said...

I liked the metaphor, "Hope is the thing with feathers." After reading that line, it stuck in my head throughout the poem. It paints a picture of hope as a light little bird that can fly through the air. This metaphor is appropriate because birds can sustain themselves in the air on nothing but their own power, as does hope. Hope can survive when it has nothing to be based on. The line, "And never stops at all," is another metaphor I agree with. Hope is something that never goes away, it never stops singing like the bird Emily Dickinson wrote about. Overall, I agree with her interpretation of hope, especially within the first stanza.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Jessica K said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Jessica K said...

"And sings the tune--without the words, And never stops at all," Hope is something that quietly sits in the back of our minds singing to us but is never loud enough to know exactly what it is telling us, there is just always hope. Sometimes the voice of hope is too quiet. Like when horrible things come along in our lives it may seem that all hope is lost but really it is right there singing, our thoughts were just too clouded with worry and doubt to hear it. I completely agree with Emily about hope. It can be emabarassed like Clay said and we can forget it but in ourselves it will always exist.

It's like all the times I have had to transfer schools. I am always nervous and dreading that first day that I forget to have hope. But after a while I get used to it and have hope again subduing all those nerves I can get and keeping me warm like the poem says.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Jordyn S said...

"Yet, never, in extremity, it asked a crumb of me."

Hope is found everywhere. At some point in our lives we have all hoped for something. Be it material possesions; that new videogame, for money to go shopping, and at our current age, for a car. Or something emotional; winning the big game against Heritage, doing well on a test, or for the safety of family or friends. For some, these hopes are expressed using religion. People pray, meditate, fast, make sacrifise, and go to services at their establishment of preference. For others there is just a simple hope, no extra umph (or effort) that is often associated with religions. This quote is very powerful in that it states that hope is found everywhere, its a natural, human thing to do, and regardless of where you search for it, ask for it, or find it, nothing is ever asked from you in return, "not a crumb." Let's look at religion. Nobody says, you must attend a church service every Sunday, you must pray every night, and you must meditate. You set the boundaries, nothing is asked of you except that you openly affiliate yourself with this religion, and even then, it really is your own choice. Nobody makes you be any religion you don't wish to be, there is no necessity to even have a religion to be able to hope. Hope high, hope low, never, now, today and tomorrow, and nothing will be expected of you. Hope without fear of compensation.

I agree with Dickinson's interpretation of hope. Think for a moment about when you honestly truly hope for things, that is when you need them the most. Rarely do we wake up every morning and simply hope to have a good day, we hit the snooze button and groan at the thought of going to school, we put the little bird back in its cage, tell it to stop singing until we need it. It's like we completely take advantage of hope, only for the gigantic, life altering and dire situations. The sweet bird is embarrassed because its a hassle to carry around hope until we truly honestly need it, and then we bring it back out from under the dust and put it on a pedestal, shine a big bright light on it, and embarrass it further. No complaints or requests ever come from this little bird named Hope, regardless of where we take it, or how much we use it. Bur remember, you snooze, you lose.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Kelly O said...

"And sings the tune--without the words, And never stops at all" I agree with Jessica in that hope is always there in the back of our minds singing a tune, but it is never quite loud enough for us to hear the words. Problems, worries, and doubts can drown out the tune and cause us to lose hope. The hope is still there with us, we just can't hear it anymore. In the same way, I think successess can amplify the hopeful tune making us feel incredibly hopeful and confident. I agree with Emily about hope. It never goes away or stops playing. At times it can be hard to hear, but if you listen close enough you will always be able to hear it.

6:32 PM  
Blogger JordanL said...

"I've heard it in the chillest land,"
I like this line of the poem because hope can be found anywhere. The most destitute people that live in the poorest places in the world have so much hope for themselves. They never give up and no matter how hard their life is, they are still happy. This is like the third stanza when it talks about the storms that can’t destroy hope. Like Monique and Clay said hope can never be lost or forgotten. I totally agree with Emily's view of hope and I really like the first stanza and how she explains hope. It is always inside of you and no one ever stops hoping even through the toughest times.

7:12 PM  
Blogger nathan a said...

I like the image of a small delicate bird taking on a mighty storm. “And sore must be the storm. That could abash the little bird. That kept so many warm.” Reason would tell us that no size of bird has power next to the fury of despair. Hope is the ability to throw aside reason. In the extended version of Return of the King the mouth of Sauron throws out Frodo’s chain mail coat, proving that Frodo is in fact dead. Aragon is unmoved, and he refuses to believe it. He then leads his men into a valiant last stand, which succeeds because he refused to give in to despair. (The major theme of the Lord of the Rings books is hope versus despair). I also think that there is a difference between hope and optimism. I think the type of hope Mrs. Kakos is describing is more like optimism. If we partake in excessive optimism then we stick our head in the sand and expose ourselves unshielded to reality. We will in fact “find ourselves fragile” reaching for our wishes. Hope however is what inspires determination and patience, not exposing ourselves to the furry of the sea, but always looking confidently to the horizon. Hope is a constant that can only be stifled by those who want it to be.

7:46 PM  
Blogger erinl said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul": This metaphor could have many deifferent meanings. My interpretation of it is hope is a dove. Doves are peaceful and gentle, they have qualities that the soul should also possess. "That perches in the soul" shows that the dove is in the soul, therefore there is hope for that person.
I personally think that hope means to believe, trust, or desire. If you believe in something, you hope/want it to be true. Hope is the feeling that things may go wrong but ultimately it will turn out for the best. For instance, when parents get divorced after constantly fighting; their time apart is for the best because now they are not miserable with each other. Or when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer and the outcome does not look good; you hope and pray that the doctors are wrong and that he/she will be fine. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all."

7:51 PM  
Blogger shannon a said...

"And sings the tune--without the words, and never stops at all" Emily Dickison is using this song of Hope as beat that keep us moving. This tune that never stops helps keeping moving forward towrad our hope and what we really want. It has no words because it needs us find our own words of what we want. I do argee with her interpretaion of hope. This is beacuse she is descirbing it as something that is always with you and that you can always findeven through "the storm that could abash the little bird". Just as in real life even in the darkest of times i could hear "the tune" of my hope and that was what got throught everything.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Jordyn S said...

Thinking about what Erin L posted has made me come to another conclusion.

There are many different levels of hope.
I'll take the cancer path, having expirienced it first hand.
First you start off hoping its a joke, or that the doctors are wrong as Erin said, then it moves to I hope surgery number one goes well, then surgery number two, you hope every day that you wont get a call saying that they lost your mother in the middle of the night, I remember spending countless hours hoping for my mothers full recovery. You gradually begin to think both short and long term, the longer the hospital stay is drawn out. Then throughout chemotherapy/radiation you hope that they have enough strength just to make it through each day at home alone while you're at school. Then you get to hope that the cancer is completely gone. Then you hope the cancer stays in remission.
Unfortunately, you never lose that hope, its a quite nagging thought to be constantly aware that at any moment, (and after having cancer twice, the chances are only AT LEAST doubled) the cancer could return.


Then you reach a level of hope where you hope every day that nobody you ever come in contact with has to go through something like that.

Think that applies to anything else?
Anybody disagree with Dickinson?

8:14 PM  
Blogger BessieS said...

“Storm / That could abash the little bird / That keep so many warm.” I interpreted this as hope leaves in times of trouble when a person decides to give up and at that point all hope leaves. I disagree with this I think that hope can be ignored but that people rarely lose all hope because that does not seem like human nature. Everyone wants to think that there is a chance for the unexpected or impossible to come true, and sometimes it does. Hope is not there to assure us of the future rather to give us the strength to go on living our lives as normal as possible. It is that little light shining in the dark that we will follow all our lives and if we are lucky we will catch up with it.

8:19 PM  
Blogger christine b. said...

"And sweetest in the gale is heard,": Gale is defined in this context as a very strong wind. After finding this, the line took on a whole different meaning than it originally did. It impacts me because this bird finds sweet sounds in the strong wind, threatening to blow it away. It shows that hope will always remain in one's heart, no matter how hard something fights to break it. It also shows that if we surrender our hope, we surrender all cause for living and we will be "swept up by the gale."

I agree with Dickinson's view of hope until the end when she states that hope never asks her for anything. I think Dickinson twists the meaning of the word asks. Although it never “asks” anyone to do anything, hope persuades one to do things they would not do otherwise and that is similar to asking.

8:21 PM  
Blogger EmilyL said...

"And sings the tune--without the words"
Hope is one of life's intricate, complex ideas that people cannot truly explain. Why hope still endures in horrendous situations is a mystery that can only be partially penetrated, and it is in this way that Emily's brilliant connection between hope and a song without words emerges.

Music is a universal language that does not needs words to be explained. When one listens to music, they intuitively understand the emotions that come through the music. No logical explanations are needed to make music be appreciated or enjoyed-people are naturally drawn to it. Hope is like music. Just as one doesn't need to explain the feelings of music, hope does not need to be explained. Hope is a feeling that cannot be understood with "logos." Just like music, hope appeals to the deeper subconscious that doesn't explain, but rather feels. Hope is the understanding of the soul, not the mind, and Emily presents this in her poetry.

Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings also addresses the role of hope in sustaining an individual. I found it interesting that both Emily and Angelou both use birds and music as metaphors.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Spencer Z said...

My favorite metaphor, like Christine's, was, "And sweetest in the gale is heard". To me, this line is one of the most profound things that can be said about the nature of man. You've probably all heard me reference one of my favorite quotes, by Camus, "In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." Both of these quotes, in essence are saying the same thing: that it is only in the moment of your greatest despair that you realize the infinite hopefulness and light residing within you. This is man's greatest strength, his crowning achievement. That which seperates us from the animals. When we are staring down into the abyss we are able to see some unconquerable beam of light. Many of my poems from first semester deal with this topic. That ironic duality that is hope, when the winds howl and the roof caves down around our heads, we can still hear the bird's subtle melody and go racing for the green grass beyond the door.

I fully agree with Dickinson's description of hope in its gentle omnipotence and subtle omniprescence. The one thing that I might disagree with Dickinson on is that it does not ask anything of her. On the contrary, I feel that hope pains us as much as it heals. That is not to say that I feel hope is a negative, for I certainly do not. I am merely saying that, with hope, one is not able to resign themselves to their fate; one is constantly striving to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I loved Jessica's description of moving to a new school and meeting new people. Being the only person from my middle school, I felt exactly the same way when I first came to Arapahoe. In fact, I still often feel that way when forced to meet new people, but as Jessica said, hope keeps me warm.

8:44 PM  
Blogger jessicam said...

I agree with Monique that the best metaphor in this poem is, "hope is the thing with feathers." To me, it gives the visual of hope being an angel throughout the piece; not just as a little bird. I don't personally have a declared religion; but when I hear the word 'hope' I think of miracles, these being caused by the higher beings. Yet, this metaphor can mean many other things too. A creature or 'thing' with feathers can be up for many other interpretations, and maybe Emily Dickinson did this on purpose; left her poem open for personal connection.
Overall, in this poem, I agree with her definition of hope. Hope is very much like she describes it; it is a warm feeling that only really comes in darker times that could really hurt the victim. But it grows, and fights through it all, no matter what the situation and where, which the last stanza seems to describe.

8:57 PM  
Blogger emilee p said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:03 PM  
Blogger emilee p said...

Like Erin, Jessica and Monique the line that speaks the most to me is, “Hope is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul.” I think that this line says that hope is somthing light, that can fly away, yet also inside soar like a bird. Personally I can think of no better animal to compare hope to than a bird. Its song is light and happy and it never seems to sing an angry tune. I generally agree with Emily Dckinson’s description of hope. I think that hope is a feeling stronger than doubt that comes at just the right moment, when you feel like giving up. Hope is perserverence to move forward. You can receive the gifts of hope and never have to give anything back.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Jennifer W said...

And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm

This line was my favorite line in the poem. I interpret it as something bad that occurs and hurts alot of people, yet somehow it reaches back and helps others. Hope is used in this stanza very powerfully and no matter the situation, hope is there waiting. As long as you give it a chance, hope will come to you, but if you assume it's not coming, it probably won't. You just have to believe. I do agree with Dickinson's interpretation of hope, that is if i am interpretating hers correctly. So many things can go wrong, one after the other, but things can only get so bad that they have to start getting better.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Megan D said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul": I think this means that hope is like the feathers of a bird. They are light and can fall off and blow away easily. If you don't stop hope from leaving you, you won't have any hope at all soon. Hope is something that isn't permanent, it can come and go, but if you want to, you can make it stay. I think that it is also saying that hope is somthing that is deep within yourself. It makes a place there, possibly temporary and perches there until it finds another place to perch itself.

8:49 AM  
Blogger J Hunt said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers." this line compares hope to a bird. Birds pearch, as it says, and sing. Somtimes they can be fun to listen to but other times birds can annoy you. Hope lingers on watching and waiting and sitting inside of you helping you through life. But sometimes this hope can be an annoyance or a let down. No matter your attitude towards life, hope will always be there.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Kyle N said...

In my opinion, "I heard it in the chilllest land" was the best metaphor for several reasons. For one, it implies that hope can be found even in the most deolate, violent, down-and-out lands. Hope can even be found in the chilliest, coldest, places. Also, this quote also implies that there is always hope, no matter what the circumstance. Even if you were in the firey pits of hell, there is still hope!

9:50 AM  
Blogger Kyle N said...

In my opinion, "I heard it in the chilllest land" was the best metaphor for several reasons. For one, it implies that hope can be found even in the most deolate, violent, down-and-out lands. Hope can even be found in the chilliest, coldest, places. Also, this quote also implies that there is always hope, no matter what the circumstance. Even if you were in the firey pits of hell, there is still hope!

9:51 AM  
Blogger Chris B said...

"It asked a crumb of me" I think that she thinks of herself as small, and smewhat worthles like a crumb. I think that she was a very depressed person and was hurting inside becasue she couldnt say what she wanted. I think that though she talks about hope she is also reffering to herself. Im not sure if her metapor of hope is entirely accurate, but i really do like the metaphor that she uses.
O ya, my post got delted, again, like in the last blog, so ya, here it is again...

9:53 AM  
Blogger ryan f said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul,"
I think that this is strong metaphor and completely describes the way hope feels to me. When I think of the word perch, it makes me think of a bird that is calmly but securly sitting in a tree. And although it may not always be noticalbe, it always seems like it is there. And I think that this accuratly describes the way hope feels to me. Emily Dickinson's picture and poem yesterday made me think that she is a lonely disturbed soul but this sort of shows that she does have hope for something.

9:53 AM  
Blogger kaitlinb said...

The metaphor metaphors bring in nature as did the last poem so why does she use nature to describe death. That keep so many warm she does not include herself. I also agree with clay and Mrs. Kakos' weightlessness which seems to fit with the strange nature that her poems bring in.It asked a crumb of me shows how little she feels.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Natalie M said...

I personally liked the "Perches in the soul" metaphor. It paints a picture for me that shows like a owl in its hallow in a tree and peering out into the world. I like her interpretation of hope. she says it "never stops at all". I think that if you have hope and believe in something you can achieve anything. i also feel that she does not have much hope for anything because of her last line ""Yet never in extremity asked a crumb of me". To me this explains part of her bleak outlok on life,. if she has no hope what does she have to live for???

10:07 AM  
Blogger Sarah D said...

“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul.”
This quote is meaning of hope in my eyes. The thing with feathers is a bird and is calmly sitting on a perch. Although the bird is serene, and calm, it also is ready to fly away at any moment. Hope is always there, overseeing everything, but is able to be invisible. All you have to do is believe and hope will be tranquil and helpful when needed.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Sarah P said...

"Hope is the thing with feathers"

This is te line that i chose to interpretate. I think that this means that hope can come and o at any moment, and that it can fly away and all hope will be lost. There is no way to contain hope, which is why one might refer to it as having wings. I completly agree with this interpretation of hope, because i know what it is like to "lose hope" and also what it is like to feel hope and to know that there is hope.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Alyssag said...

"and the sweetest in the gale is heard;" I think that her extended metaphor of hope being a singing bird "perched in the sole" is a great visual. I think that Emily relates alot of her life to nature, and it shows in this poem. When she makes this metaphor of the bird, I think that she is saying that the bird can fly and be anywhere to cheer you up. When the slaves were in the feilds, picking cotten, they would sing our of hope. I think that singing is a way of expressing emotion and letting your feelings "fly" free.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Lauren F. said...

"And snore must be the storm..." When someone snores it sounds like a storm is coming. The deep rumbling within is the sound of the thunder pounding on the earth. The snoring is is sign of being in a deep sleep and the thunder is deep sound from the heavens. I don't really agree with Dickinson's idea of hope becasue she doesn't do anything about it, she write poems but doesn't do anything to change her life.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Anoel said...

"And sings the tune--without the words"

I think that Dickinson is trying to show that hope is a very sweet and valuable thing. A tune can lift your spirits at some of the worst times, but then again, it isn't a song because it lacks words. I think she is saying that, although hope is great, that reality is even sweeter. I agree with Emily in that music doesn't need an explanation, but in the text I think that the wordlessness of the music adds a tinge of bitterness to the concept of hope.

I agree that hope is a phenominal force in the world, but even so, I think that hope can be unfulfilling.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Erin G said...

Sorry this is so late Ms. Kakos!!

I agree with Clay and Ms. Kakos that hope is weightless, but instead of hope landing lightly and standing fast, I thought of hope as waiting for our cue. When Dickinson says "that perches in the soul," I believe that hope waits for us to be inspired. When we are inspired, hope will fly lightly and weightlessly, almost effortlessly. Once we find inspiration in ourselves, hope flies easily. I also think that the line which states "Yet, never, in extremity,/ It asked a crumb of me," supports my idea. Hope never asks you to do anything with your life. This obviously goes against what Spencer said. I don't think that we are urged by hope to do anything with ourselves, but once we find inspiration and purpose in life, I think hope gladly leaps up and flies. I do not think that the bird singing in the poem means that he is constantly trying to be heard. I think he simply has hope in us that we will find him.

I think Emily pretty much got it right, especially "It never asked a crumb of me," part. I really enjoyed this poem since (hopefully you realized this after my place essay) everyday, the birds I see, give me hope for the "nature" in people and they always brighten my days! Birds and hope just seem to go together.

5:50 PM  
Blogger OfAThousandSuns said...

"hope is the thing with feathers" This states everything clearly, and that is that hope allows the person with it to soar away from anything that is plaguing them and be free and content. I agree to almost the fullest extent with her that hope is what she says it is.

7:33 PM  
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6:37 AM  

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