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 in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
“Emily Dickinson's poem was published in 1861. She spent most of her adult life as a recluse living in her family home, only rarely venturing out. She was very quiet and timid, never married or actively sought a permanent relationship, despite correspondence with several older men she viewed as her protectors.
Her poetry is full of figurative language, and this poem is an extended metaphore, transforming hope into a bird (the poet loved birds) that is ever present in the human soul. It sings, especially when times get tough. Hope springs eternal, might be a reasonable summing up.”