Emily Dickinson's poems in translation/Polish/Hope is the Thing with Feathers/Scansion

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Scansion of the poem "Hope" is the Thing with Feathers


Verse with rhythmic pattern          Rhyme pattern   Type of metre


 /     ^ |^   /    |^    / |^                        mixed tetrameter catalectic (the first
"Hope" is the thing with feathers —        A         foot - trochaic, the rest - iambic) 
  
^    / |^    / |^   /                                iambic trimeter
That perches in the soul —                 B
^   /    |^   /   |^   /  |^   /                     iambic tetrameter
And sings the tune without the words —     C
^   /|^   /     | ^  /                               iambic trimeter
And never stops — at all —                 B


^   /  |^      / |^   /    | ^  /                    iambic tetrameter
And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —    D
^   /   |^    / |^   /                               iambic trimeter
And sore must be the storm —               E
^    /    |^/   |^   /     |^                        iambic tetrameter catalectic
That could abash the little Bird           D
^    /   |^  /   |^                                  iambic trimeter catalectic
That kept so many warm —                   E


^    /    |^  / |^   /   |^   /                      iambic tetrameter
I’ve heard it in the chillest land —       F
^   / |^   /   |^    /                               iambic trimeter
And on the strangest Sea —                 G
^    /|^    / |^ /  |^                               iambic tetrameter catalectic
Yet, never, in Extremity,                  G
^  /    |^ /     | ^  /                              iambic trimeter
It asked a crumb — of Me.                  G


How to read the scansion[edit]

^ - unstressed syllable
/ - stressed syllable
| - metric foot boundary
B - slant rhyme
D - perfect rhyme
E - perfect rhyme
G - perfect rhyme

Why is the scansion important ?[edit]

The scansion shows the rhythmic and rhyme patterns of the poem, which are not insignificant when it comes to its interpretation. Emily Dickinson in Hope is the thing with feathers uses one of the variants of hymn metre, namely ballad metre. The regular pattern of this metre, which consists of alternating iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter lines, creates a feeling of steadiness and peace, which reflects perfectly the main topic of the poem, that is hope presented as a bird. Additionally, the presence of the ballad metre emphasizes the narrative nature of the poem. Nevertheless, this regularity is in a way distorted by catalectic feet in some of the lines, as well as the irregular rhyme pattern, that is ABCB DEDE FGGG. Taking in into account, the reader may think that behind the seeming peacefulness of the poem, indicated by the regular length of the lines, there is something that disfigures the idyllic picture created by Dickinson.

Useful links[edit]

Types of feet:


Types of lines:


Types of rhymes:


For further reading: