Friday, June 3, 2011

Rhyme Verse Form Poem: Hope is the Thing with Feathers

ope is the Thing with Feathers is Rhyme Verse Form Poem.  It is a form of poem that utilizes both rhyme and rhythm as their poetic devices. In this poem, Dickinson, the writer, has arranged the poem in such a way that it is worth reading. The analysis of the poem will be directed to its structure as well as its content. In terms of the structure the poem will be analyzed on how the poetic devices and poetic diction employed, whereas through the analysis of the content the meaning or message implied by Dickinson will be revealed.

“Hope is the Thing with Feathers”
By Emily Dickinson

“Hope is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sing 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 chilliest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of Me.

1. Poetic Devices Analysis
    The poetic devices utilized in this poem are rhyme, rhythm, repetition, and comparison. The discussions of each are presented below.
     a. Stanza and Rhyme
         In this poem, Dickinson uses quatrain stanza and approximate rhyme. The irregular rhyme scheme identified in the first is “a-b-c-b”. This means the second and the fourth line rhyme each other. While in the second stanza, the rhyme scheme is “a-b-a-b”. This means the first and the third line rhyme each other and so do the second and the fourth line. Further, in the third stanza, the rhyme scheme is “a-b-b-b”. This means the second, the third and the fourth rhyme each other.
     b. Rhythm
         A unique point of this poem is the use of irregular punctuation. Dickinson uses many hyphens to modify and break up the rhythmic flow. Those indicate breaks and pauses in reading.  The rhythm form employed in this poem is an iambic trimeter that often expands to include a fourth stress at the end of the line. She also capitalizes key words in the middle or in the last sentences that are main symbols or have a big effect on the poem. This directs the readers to pay closer attention to those words.
     c. Repetition
         Dickinson uses repetition as in “and” and “that”. The conjunction “and” is repeated five times at the same structure, that is, at the beginning of line. This word shows the continuation of what Hope looks like. In line with “and”, “that” is also used to describe the other characteristics of Hope.
     d. Comparison
         In this poem, the poet uses two kinds of comparison, metaphor and personification. Glancing at the title of this poem, it can be inferred that the poet uses metaphor. As restated in the first line -“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers-, the poet compares the “Hope” to “the thing with feathers” or simply a bird. Hope is an inanimate thing, but Dickinson gives hope feathers in order to create an image of hope in our minds. This implies that hope has the ability to take someone up as the bird with his feathers can fly upward.
    To continue of giving an image of Hope, the poet uses personification. In the second to fourth lines of first stanza, she gives Hope some characteristics of an animate thing, a bird.
“…That perches in the soul -
And sing the tune without the words  -
And never stops - at all - …”
    Hope is assumed to always stay in our soul. Even we may not realize what the song is, we keep singing. This means the presence of hope is ever lasting.
“…And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -…” (stanza 2)
“… I’ve heard it in the chilliest land -… (stanza 3)
    In the second and third stanza, Dickinson personifies Hope by the use of word “heard”. She assumes that she can overhear the presence of hope in whatever the condition is.
2. Poetic Diction Analysis: Denotation and Connotation
     a. “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” utilizes denotative meanings along with connotative meanings for the words chosen. The words such as, sings, sweetest, stops, kept, etc. are used to give overt descriptions of the intended meanings.
     b. Connotations are also employed to color the poem. Here, Dickinson implies meaning inside the words: storm, Gale, a little Bird, the chilliest land, and the strangest Sea. The word “storm and Gale” represents a severe life she faces. “A little Bird” expresses a little remained hope of hers. “The chilliest land” refers the difficult condition of life in where we still find the presence of hope. “The strangest Sea” also implies a calamity of life.
3. Content
     a. Theme
         Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” discusses the presence of Hope in human. This is one of God’s blessing bestowed on us for free. Then, it is intended to guide us through hard times. In short, this poem tells about Life with a Hope, a gift from God, which makes human keep going in Life. 
     b. Message
         Dickinson tells about the Hope. In this poem, she provides the metaphorical description of hope as a bird. She describes that the hope exists in our soul forever. Hope is everywhere and is always there for us, even though we do not realize what it is or feel its presence. Even in the hardship, a hope is still faithfully with us and never asks for a return. From this poem, we can learn that how difficult condition we face in life, we should not stop hoping. A hope will raise our spirit up. It is what keeps us going and what makes our life worth living.
3. Symbol
    Some symbols are used in this poem. The first is “a bird”. It is main symbol used by Dickinson to represent a Hope. The bird’s characteristics stated in this poem is intended to symbolize the hope of a better life. The other symbols are “Gale and Storm”. They symbolize the hardship we go through in life. This hardship suppresses hope but hope continues to fly and never ends. In the third stanza, Dickinson continues to use symbols as in “the chilliest land and the strangest Sea”. Those symbolize the difficult condition of life in where the hope is everlasting. The last symbol used is “a crumb”. It symbolizes a return that the hope never asked for.
4. Tone
    This poem brings optimistic and trustworthy tone. By comparing a Hope to the bird, Dickinson guide the readers to believe that a Hope always exists and to be optimistic in facing the hard time in life as the bird which always flies upward.
5. Point of View
    This poem is narrated from the point of view of someone who was involved in it. Here, we can see that the poet is optimistic when facing her hardship of life, due to the presence of hope. Further, she convinces us not to stop hoping.
6. Comment
    The moral value implied in this poem is worth to be introduced to Junior High School. However, some words seem sophisticated for them. Therefore, the teacher should provide the meaning or show the synonym of those words.

Analyzed by Tri Mulyati, an English Teacher

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