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My Inner Anthology: “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

Written by Rachael Norris, 10th February 2021

Today's reading comes from The Reader's Somerset Hub Leader, Laura Merritt. Larua recommends a piece from her 'inner anthology' and shares a reading of the poem "Hope" is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson. The theme for our daily readings in February is 'Close to the Heart'. Discover The Reader at Home for more readings 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers 

“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.
by Emily Dickinson

I’ve always felt drawn to this poem but I only recently found out that Emily Dickinson apparently had quite a love of birds. The reason why I found this interesting, is because usually, when we think of birds we imagine them in flight, winging their way across empty skies and we tend to associate that with a sense of freedom. I think what comes through so differently in this poem, however, and the reason why I’ve always found it such a comfort personally, is the powerful metaphor of ‘Hope’ as a bird that just sits still within us; a small feathered creature residing inside us all, keeping us warm and giving us strength.

When I think of this bird who sings without words, never stopping in its quest, it conveys for me an immense feeing of confidence and trust. I love how it serves almost as a reminder to us all to just keep singing inside, no matter how difficult things might feel. Even if we have no words for what is happening now and no knowing either of what the future might bring; if we can just hold onto our inner sense of hope, it will carry us through even the most adverse of conditions.

What’s more, ‘Hope’ never asks for even a crumb in return.

What I love most of all about this poem is the feeling of relentless positivity it brings with it and I hope that’s what comes through for anyone else reading this who really needs that at the moment.

Have you read this poem? Want to make your own recommendation? Join in the conversation online using #SharedReading @thereaderorg on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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