Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hope is the thing with feathers...

Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson!  We spent some time in class talking about her life, her influences and her poems today.  My favorite has always been #314.  There is something lovely in the idea that hope "sings the tune without the words and never stops at all."

In addition to being a thing with feathers, hope is a thing we all need.  As both a noun and a verb, it is a thing that we have and a thing that we do.

For me, the noun kind of hope is more important than the verb variety.  We all hope (verb) for things - new cars, better shoes, a day off - and these change with our needs.

But the hope that we have - the belief or trust in something or someone - needs to be more constant.  We need to have hope that our schools are making appropriate decisions and implementing wise practices.  We need to have hope that our students are being challenged and supported.  We need to have hope that what we do today will have a positive impact on the future.

These noun hopes are things we also need to make happen - it is not enough to just have them.  But starting with these hopes and working towards making them realities is pretty hard work.  Some days, all we can do is keep warm by listening to the hope sing while we are in the midst of a gale.

It is interesting to notice that Emily ends the poem by saying that hope does not ask for anything in return.  I disagree.  If hope keeps us warm on our darkest days, don't we sort of owe it to hope to work to transform it into reality?

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

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.  

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