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Emily Dickinson - tasks

Read the two poems by Emily Dickinson below and answer the questions to both of them.

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 chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Comprehension

  1. Describe what this poem is about using your own words.
  2. What sort of connotations does the image of a bird give you? What is its significance in this poem?
  3. Give an account of the images from nature that Dickinson has used in this poem.
  4. Why do you think identity is often claimed to be a central theme in this poem?

I'm Nobody! Who are you? (260)

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Comprehension

  1. Using your own words, try to explain what this poem is about.
  2. Describe the speaker in this poem. Who is “Nobody”?
  3. Dickinson uses the word “frog” in this poem. What connotation does the image of a frog give you? What are the qualities of a frog?
  4. Why can one say that this is a poem about recognition?

Find out

Study Emily Dickinson's biography further, and try to decide whether this can be said to be a biographical poem. Biography

Research

Watch video clips of these poems on the web. Seach for

  • "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" Emily Dickinson
  • "I am Nobody" Emily Dickinson

Then consider the following questions:

  1. How are the poems interpreted in these video clips?
  2. In what ways does the interpretation differ from your own understanding of the poem?
  3. Feel free to add your own personal comment to the video clips on You Tube. There is a commentary box below each of the videos.

Discussion Board

Find Emily Dickinson poems on Emily Dickinson and her poetry and contribute in the discussion board on Emily Dickinson and her poetry. The website is free, but you have to provide a log in name and password.

Listen to Poems

Listen to actress Julie Harris read the two poems above: "This is my letter to the world"

Further Research

Do you want to know more about Emily Dickinson's life? Here is a biography.

Læringsressurser

American Literature in the 19th Century