Hope is the thing with feathers

I teach literature classes to middle and high school students, and they often ask why they should care about poetry. There are many reasons, but my short cut answer to them is that there are times when regular language just isn’t enough to convey the emotions or significance of the moment. Sometimes these are really great times, like falling in love or accomplishing your dream. Sometimes these are not such great times…like dealing with a global pandemic.

The wonderful organization, Academy of American Poets, has been asking people to submit their recommendations for #ShelterInPoems. Later this week I will write about what poem came up for me. But until then, I would like to share this poem, which is my favorite among some of those listed in response to this request.

Hope is the thing with feathers (254)
Emily Dickinson – 1830-1886

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.


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