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Blind Hope

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In the darkest times when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, hope is there to help you keep your chin up. Taylor Swift writes about hope she gets when she moves from one relationship to the next in her song, “Begin Again.” In “‘Hope’ is the Thing With Feathers” Emily Dickinson also writes about how hope is there for in her darkest hours. Aside from their imagery and tone, “Begin Again” and “‘Hope’ is the Thing With Feathers” are very similar because of their corresponding use of figures of speech, rhyme, and message.

The first of the two differences is the way the authors use imagery. In Dickinson’s poem she uses sound and sight imagery to portray a happy singing bird while Swift uses feeling and sight imagery to paint a picture of a terrible ex-boyfriend who always brought her down. For example, Dickinson used cheerful illustrations such as, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” (1), “sings the tune without the words” (3), and “sweetest-- in the Gale-- is heard” (5) to describe a chipper scene. She uses a sweet, singing bird to demonstrate what hope is, which encouraged perky images to appear in her poem. On the other hand, Swift uses images like, “all love ever does is/ break and burn and end” (19-20) and “he didn’t like it when I wore high heels” (2) to display an insensitive and unloving ex-. The unpleasant pictures are used to show how she had given up on love because her past relationships weren’t what she wanted. A definite distinction between the poems is their use of imagery.

Another difference is the contrasting tactics that Dickinson and Swift use to depict tone. Emily Dickinson uses personification and imagery to show an astonished tone while Taylor Swift uses voice and word choice to show an optimistic tone. For instance, Dickinson used, “Yet- never- in Extremity/ It asked a crumb- of me” (11-12) to show that even in the most extreme times hope never asked anything of her. This shows that she is inspired and a little puzzled by what hope is and why it does what it does. On the contrary, Swift says, “I think it's strange that you think I'm funny cause/ He never did” (15-16) to imply that her previous boyfriend didn’t really appreciate her, but her current boyfriend is much better. Using voice and word choice she showed that she is excited for what’s going to happen in her new relationship. Dickinson and Swift’s tones are very diverse.

Regardless, “‘Hope’ is the Thing with Feathers” and “Begin Again” are quite similar in the figurative language they contain. Both authors used metaphors to better explain their topic. Dickinson says on lines six and seven, “sore must be the storm-/ that could abash the little Bird” directly referring to hope as a little bird. Also, on lines 19 and 20 Swift indirectly refers to love as a fire saying “all love ever does/ is break and burn and end”. In order to help the reader to understand what each of them thought about hope and love they used brilliant metaphors.

In addition, each poem has various cases of rhyme. Even though neither of them have a constant pattern, rhyme is very apparent. In one illustration Dickinson says, “And sweetest- in the Gale- is heard/ And sore must be the storm/ That could abash the little Bird” (5-7). She uses full rhyme in an ABA pattern to get her point across. Swift also uses an ABA pattern in lines 13 through 15, “Is break and burn and end/ But on a Wednesday in a cafe/ I watched it begin again.” She uses partial rhyme, however, to demonstrate what she thinks about love. Both Dickinson and Swift used rhyme in their poems.

The final similarity of the two poems is their message. Emily Dickinson and Taylor Swift’s poetry both send a message of hope to the audience. On lines six through eight Dickinson says, “And sore must be the storm/ That could abash the little Bird/ That kept so many warm.” Through this passage and the rest of the poem she tells the reader about how hope can keep you warm even when you hit rock bottom. A story of hope also shines through Swift’s lyrics. First, she explains how her previous relationship was on lines 15 and 16, “I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny cause/ He never did.” She then shows the listeners how her new boyfriend helps her to finally get over her past relationships when she writes, “And for the first time/ What’s past is past” (42-43). Throughout the whole song Swift unravels her experiences and encourages anyone who hears never to lose hope because there’s always second chances. Both Emily Dickinson and Taylor Swift wrote a parallel message of hope.

To sum it up, even though they were written in completely different times, Dickinson’s “‘Hope’ is the Thing With Feathers” and Swift’s “Begin Again” are very similar. Dickinson uses happy images to compare hope to a singing bird whereas Swift uses depressing images to describe her past relationship. While Swift used voice and chose words to express a bad past experience and a new beginning, Dickinson used other tactics to create a confused and inspired tone. However, they both use mostly metaphors in their pieces of poetry. Rhyme also shows up numerous times in each poem. The message of hope is the last similarity but certainly not the least. Remember that even when it seems like all hope is lost, it’s not.



Works Cited

Dickinson, Emily. “‘Hope’ is the Thing with Feathers.” Elements of Literature: Third Course. Ed. Kathleen Daniel. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2003
Swift, Taylor. "Begin Again." Rec. 1 Oct. 2012. Red. Big Machine Records, 2012. CD.



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