This is my favorite poem by Emily Dickinson, and my class reads it at least once, regardless of what course I am teaching. We've read it in the seventh grade, eighth grade, eleventh grade, twelfth grade, creative writing, mythology, whatever. If I'm teaching, we're going to be reading this poem.
I never know what kind of lives my students lead when they leave my class. Some of them tell me horrific stories of lives lived without hope. Consequently, I try to leave them with this message from Ms. Dickinson, and hope that they don't forget it.
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 warm00
I've heard it in the chillest land--
And on the strangest Sea--
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb--of Me.