The AVBOB Poetry Competition | 3 Poems on Hope to Give You a Fresh Perspective

3 Poems on Hope to Give You a Fresh Perspective on Seeing the Silver Lining

Hope is not a one-size-fits-all notion. Not everyone is going to find a spark of positivity in a “get well soon” card; not everyone looks forward to tomorrow when listening to an encouraging song. What does seem to speak to people vast and varied, however, are poems. Simply because there are so many, and each one gives us a small glimmer of the complexity of human perspective. In a large anthology of hundreds of poems, it is possible that only one or two might speak to you – but taking the time to find them is so worth it, and it may help you to refine your own craft too. Below, we take a look at three poems on hope sure to get you inspired.

Emily Dickinson – “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers” is one of the most popular poems about hope, and was written by famed American poet, Emily Dickinson, sometime around 1862. The extended metaphor of a bird unfolds across the verses to denote the act of hoping – something that flies, sings, and warms the hearts of many, and yet asks nothing in return. To be hopeful is thus seen as a free gift, as it does not cost one to maintain the feeling, and it miraculously weathers any storm. The rhyme scheme is a-b-c-b in the first stanza, a-b-a-b in the second, and a-b-b-b in the third concluding stanza. Altogether, this poem reads like a tender hymn a mother would sing to her worried children.

Maya Angelou – Still I Rise

If you know anything about prolific writer, Maya Angelou, you will know she lived a tragic, yet incredibly beautiful and meaningful life. Through her fight against injustices occurring on both a personal and systemic level, Angelou penned some of the most empowering modern works in history. “Still I Rise” is one such example. Within the lyric poem, words of hardship continually precede the declaration, “I rise”. It is as though instead of hopelessness around every corner, Angelou decides that the one certain outcome will be that she overcomes. This relentless passion for a future of hope is probably why Nelson Mandela read this piece at his 1994 inauguration. Today, the poem continues to speak to the hearts of the downtrodden and abused.

Adam Zagajewski – Try to Praise the Mutilated World

A first read-through of Adam Zagajewski’s “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” might feel like a sarcastic joke. The Polish poet makes special effort to nonchalantly mention both the ugliness and beauty in the world in a single breath. A closer look, however, reveals that it is merely the accepting perspective of the poet that bad things will and do happen in the world, but finding a source of happiness might help. The piece offers no recurring rhyme scheme or rhythm and is a single stanza of 21 lines. The final two lines, “and the gentle light that strays and vanishes / and returns.” is a comment that no matter how dark, light does indeed find its way back into our lives.

For authentically South African poems on hope, peruse our poem library here.