Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hope 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.
--Emily Dickinson

After I posted yesterday's poem, I found another by Emily Dickinson that I wanted to share. It reminded me of a quote that I printed out and hung on my cubicle wall way back when I was working at Dentrix:
Be like a bird, who,
Halting in flight
On limb too slight,
Feels it give way beneath him;
Yet sings
Knowing he has wings.
--Victor Hugo
Why is it that birds are such a potent symbol of hope? Is it because they have wings and can fly away from their troubles? Is it because they communicate by singing? Because they're heard most often in the early morning of a bright new day? Because their arrival after a long winter signals that spring is on the way? Because they are so beautiful and delicate? Maybe all of the above. I think it's interesting that though birds seem so carefree, they have all of the same struggles that other creatures do. They have to work hard to build homes, raise and feed their young, avoid predators, find enough food to eat, and make long journeys just to survive. Do we ignore these factors when we associate them with hope and freedom? Or do they make the symbol that much stronger? The birds have all sorts of troubles, but still find time to sing and make the world a prettier place.

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