Poem of the Week – Why We Should Cling To Hope

There has been a small gap in the weekly poem appearance owing to various festivities, says Poetry Editor Gill Ward.

But I had pleasure in choosing this week’s poem — ‘Hope’, by Emily Dickinson — as it is such a message for our New Year, 2022, says Gill.

‘Hope is what we all need to cling to these days, not just for ourselves but for the world in such complicated times.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Little-known during her lifetime, she has since been regarded as one of the most important figures in American poetry

Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, into a prominent family with strong ties to its community. Evidence suggests that she lived much of her life in isolation.

Emily Dickinson. Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Considered an eccentric by locals, she developed a penchant for white clothing and was known for her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, to even leave her bedroom.

She never married, and most friendships between her and others depended entirely upon correspondence. 

While Dickinson was a prolific writer, her only publications during her lifetime were 10 of her nearly 1,800 poems, and one letter .

Her poems were unique for her era. They contain short lines, typically lack titles but in a form more modern for the time.

Many of you will be familiar with this poem. The first verse is often quoted alone. I love it!  Although reading about her life you could feel it was sad, but there you are – she was still able to hold on to hope.

Hope” is the thing with feathers 

    “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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