Poem of the Week: ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers

  11 May '21   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Celebrations of the NHS have special resonance in 2021. Our newest poetry collection, published in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library, is To Mind Your Life: Poems for Nurses and Midwives. The poems have been selected to celebrate and inspire, to reflect on this difficult work in a time when the profession has been under significant pressure. This week’s poem, which sits in the anthology with poems by Jackie Kay, Wendy Cope, Lemn Sissay and Sabrina Mahfrouz, is Emily Dickinson’s “‘Hope is the thing with feathers'”, a poem of gratitude, light, and strength and resilience in difficulty.

  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.

Source: THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON: VARIORUM EDITION, edited by Ralph W. Franklin, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
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