Study Guide

Hope is the thing with feathers Perseverance

By Emily Dickinson


"Don't quit." "Keep going." "You can do it." "Tomorrow is another day." These are the kinds of inspirational messages that we imagine that little bird is calling out to us from inside its birdhouse in our soul. Your really can't talk about "'Hope' is the thing with feathers" without focusing on that first word in the title. Ultimately, the notion of hope is what makes this poem inspirational. It lets us know that there is a force out there to get us through the dark days that life can toss our way. When that happens, just listen to that feathered little cheerleader and, you know, persevere.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. What about a bird makes it a good choice for this poem's hope metaphor? What other metaphors for hope can you think of?
  2. Can we have hope without suffering? How might the speaker answer that question?
  3. What about hope helps us persevere, according to this poem?
  4. What, if anything, might dampen or lessen hope, according the poem? Do you agree that hope can be affected in this way? Why or why not?

Chew on This

This poem's message is simple: hope is the key to perseverance. Without hope, all is lost.

The choice of a bird to represent hope reflects the idea that hope may not be as constant as we're led to believe. One day it's here, the next it's flown the coop. The same could be said for our will to persevere.