Comparing and Contrasting Poems Did you know that Emily Dickinson wrote nearly 800 poems? And less than a dozen of those poems were published during her lifetime! If you want to read a great poem I’d suggest, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” and “It was not Death, For I Stood up”. Emily Dickinson wrote both poems, but they are vastly different in themes. The first poem “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” is an inspirational piece written about hope. The second piece “It was not Death, For I Stood up” is a slightly darker poem that talks about death.
Even though the same author, Emily Dickinson, writes both poems, they differ in themes and tone. First, both poems are similar because the same person wrote them. Dickinson wrote these and several other poems throughout her life. Second, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” and “It was not Death, For I Stood up” both loosely rhyme. “…And sweetest in the gale is heard/ And sore must be the storm/ That could abash the little bird” The words hear and bird rhyme. Also in “It was not Death, For I Stood up” words like “spar” and “despair” loosely rhyme. Third, both poems have a clear narrator or main character.
In “It was not Death, For I Stood up”, the (narrator) main character is a person who has just lost a loved one. Because of this loss, She- the main character- cannot express her feeling in words. All of the pain, sorrow, and devastation that our main character is feeling can only “not” something. While in “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”, the main character tells us about how she has found hope everywhere and how that hope is like a bird. Although both of these pieces clearly have a narrator, who is also the main character, there are several differences in theme and tone.
The poem “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” deals with; as I have said before, hope. It talks about how hope sings like a bird. The last lines of the poem say: “Yet, never, in extremity/ It asked a crumb of me. ” Dickinson is talking about how even in the time when she thought that there was no way through the dark night there was still hope. Somehow, that little thing, hope, was there and never has hope ever asked anything in return. This poem (in my opinion) is inspirational. It gives the reader hope, to do anything. The poem tells you that no matter where you are hope will be there singing to you.
In spite of all the things that are, happing there still is hope; hope is never going to desert you. It matters not how depressed or what’s happing in your life right now hope will be there to help you. While reading, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers,” the “hope” in the poem, reminds me of God. Like “hope” in the piece, God is always there when you need him. While “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” gives the reader hope one kind of hope, I also think that “It was not Death, For I Stood up” gives the reader a different kind of hope.
The first time that I read “It was not Death, For I Stood up” was after the loss of someone whom I’d loved very much. The “hope” that I got from “It was not Death, For I Stood up” wasn’t the warm-happy hope that you feel when you read “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”, but it was a sad-understanding type of hope that said to me: ‘Hey, other people have felt what you are feeling… They survived and so will you. ’ Like I said before the main theme in this poem is death, so isn’t it weird that I found hope in it? No, I think it’s not that weird, after hope is found “on the strangest sea”. It was not Death, For I Stood up” deals with the emotions that the main character is going through after the loss of her loved one, it’s so hard for the narrator to tells us exactly what she is feeling. That is because the narrator, she, has so many conflicting emotions. Have you ever had a time where you couldn’t tell other what you were feeling, because you had so many emotions that differed from the next? Well, after my friend’s death I felt that way. Like in the poem I couldn’t say exactly what I was feeling, since I really didn’t know myself [what I was feeling]. But I could tell them what I wasn’t feeling.
I knew that I was not happy and I knew that I wasn’t angry at anyone, but I still felt something like anger. Next in “It was not Death, For I Stood up” talks about how –because of the- tears make it so hard to breathe and no matter what you personally cannot stop them only you with “a key” can stop then. And right now that person is the one that you have just lost. If the one who has the “key” is the person whom you’re burying then how will the tears ever stop. Then the poem goes on to say how the main character is at a place where she has forgotten what hope feels like.
So, how can these two poems- “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” and “It was not Death, For I stood up”- have anything to with each other? Well, besides the fact that they both are written by the same author (Emily Dickinson), they both deal with hope in some way. In “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”, you have finding hope, it is everywhere. But in “It was not Death, For I Stood up” you deal with the loss of your hope. Next both poems deal with emotions, a warn-fuzzy hope in “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” and so many twisted emotions that you can’t began to understand in “It was not Death, For I Stood up”.
They (“It was not Death, For I Stood up” and “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”) differ, as “It was not Death, For I Stood up” tells of a great loss of more than just a love one but the loss of hope as well. And “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” deals with find things (i. e. hope everywhere). To wrap thing up, I believe that both poems should go hand in hand. You should read, “It was not Death, For I Stood up” first then next read “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”. When you read the poems in that order, it leaves you with a bittersweet feeling in your heart.
When you read, “It was not Death, for I Stood up” you remember the times that you lost someone very dear to you. Also, you remember the heartache, the accusations/questions, and the emotions. When you were asking God how he could take the person who was so very dear to you, and how He, God, could leave you like this. Then while reading, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” you remember that God, like the hope, is everywhere. He hasn’t forsaken or left you at all. God has been there right beside you all along you are not alone.
You remember the faith- hope- you had in Him and like the “Footprints in the Sand” during the hard times when you only saw, one set of prints it was God’s footprints because he was carrying you. There is always hope no matter how dark the tunnel seems there is always light at the other end. As I said at the beginning most of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published after her death. After Emily’s death in 1886, her little sister, Lavinia Dickinson, found her journals and worked hard to see them published. Out of all of Emily Dickinson’s poems my two favorite are “Hope is a Thing with
Feathers” and “It was not Death, for I stood up” and for me these two poems should be read one after the other, no brakes in between. And even though “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” was written, in a time of peace and happiness, long before “It was not Death, for I Stood up”- which was written in a time of death and tragedy. I believe you should read the latter first. with that I conclude my comparing and contrasting essay of Emily Dickinson’s poems “It was not Death, for I Stood up” and “Hope is a Thing with Feathers”.
For your pleasure, I included the two poems in the way I think they should be read: “It was not Death, for I stood up, And all the Dead, lie down — It was not Night, for all the Bells Put out their Tongues, for Noon. It was not Frost, for on my Flesh I felt Siroccos — crawl — Nor Fire — for just my Marble feet Could keep a Chancel, cool — And yet, it tasted, like them all, The Figures I have seen Set orderly, for Burial, Reminded me, of mine — As if my life were shaven, And fitted to a frame, And could not breathe without a key, And ’twas like Midnight, some – When everything that ticked — has stopped —
And Space stares all around — Or Grisly frosts — first Autumn morns, Repeal the Beating Ground — But, most, like Chaos – Stopless — cool — Without a Chance, or Spar — Or even a Report of Land — To justify — Despair. ” “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. ”