“Hope” is the thing with feathers – by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – by Emily Dickinson

“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.

Originally edited by two of her friends MABEL LOOMIS TODD and T.W. HIGGINSON.

American poet Emily Dickinson is almost as well known for her reclusive nature as she is for her poetry. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830, she lived a very solitary life, conducting many of her close and personal relationships through written letters and fragments of poetry.

In her lifetime, she wrote nearly 1800 poems, however, only 10 were published while she was alive. It was only after her death that her work was seen by those outside her immediate circle of friends and loved ones. Under the request of her sister Lavinia, her two friends, Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, published a volume of her work in 1890 that drew widespread interest. The 1890 edition was heavily edited to be more fitting with the times, and the pair were particularly selective about the poems featured. It wasn’t until the mid-20th-century when the entire collection of original poems by Emily Dickinson (as she had written them) were published.

Along with fellow contemporary Walt Whitman, she is considered to be ‘one of the two leading 19th-century American poets’. Developing her own, unique style, she disregarded many of the common rules of grammar at the time, with her unusual off-rhymes adding to her experimental technique. Her garden was a great influence on her and features frequently throughout her poems and letters, with other common themes of nature, love, hope and her particular fascination with death.

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