An Analysis of Lisel Mueller’s “Hope”
Sometimes we are not aware of what we have in front of our eyes. Feelings can be illustrated in the most unexpected places, and at the most unexpected times. Hope is not an exception, it is felt and other times seen. We tend to take for granted what we see on a daily basis. We are even accustomed just to observe rather than look, and that is where we need to focus the most. As a result of the loss of her mother and, Muller influenced her writing by always describing deep and powerful emotions. In Lisel Mueller poem “Hope”, Mueller claims that such a strong feeling like hope can be found everywhere if we focus on what is in front of our eyes.
Mueller begins by describing places where we can find hope. When referring to hope, the author actually uses verbs to personify the word and the actual feeling. When Mueller writes “It hovers in dark corners before the lights are turned on,” she is giving hope life by using “hovers” (lines 1-2). She is trying to express that hope is within us even before we believe it is. Also, dark can be associated with moment when we are about to give up, and the light would be the hope that has been hidden. After reading those lines we can infer that Muller is truly devoted of hope.
The author continues to emphasize the power of hope and how strong it is. When Mueller writes “[…] it shakes sleep from its eyes and drops from mushroom gills” meaning that hope makes you see things clearly and encourages to continue. Mueller uses mushrooms gills as a metaphor to demonstrate reproduction and growth (lines 3-4).
In addition, Mueller focuses on nature to show that life continues with hope. When she writes “it explodes in the starry heads of dandelions turned sages” making the inference to nature again with “starry heads of dandelions” (lines 5-6). This means that we can even find hope in simplicity, and gives the message to continue developing such a virtue like hope.
Mueller continues with metaphors referring to nature when she writes “[…] it sticks to the wings of green angels that sail from the tops of maples.” In this sentence nature would be the “green angels” since when we think about nature the first color that comes up to our mind is green. Deeper than that Mueller is giving life to hope by saying that “it sticks” because hope is not something that you can actually stick to anything (7).
In the second stanza, the author remains with the nature essence. When Mueller writes “[…] It sprouts in each occluded eye of the many-eyed potato,” it may not make sense for everyone. Analyzing that sentence it is demonstrating that for a person who grows potatoes for a living it could be a tremendous demonstration of hope that the crops were grown (lines 9-10). Mueller wants the audience to understand that everything is based on perspective.
Hope is tremendously powerful when we need to take a little step forward. Mueller writes “[…] it lives in each earthworm segment surviving cruelty,” we can relate the word “cruelty” with moments of sadness, and the “earthworm” with any living specie like any of us (lines 11-12). These lines make us believe even more in hope, and that it is inside all of us with the difference that some persons only grapple in hope when they need it.
Mueller remains focused on nature and living things in the rest of the stanza. The author showcases hope by comparing it with a dog and its behavior writing “[…] it is the motion that runs from the eyes to the tail of a dog,” As we know, that is truly a common action in any pet, meaning that hope is shown in the connection of our mind and body (13-14). Also, hope is what we are initially made of. When Mueller writes “[…] it is the mouth that inflates the lungs the child that has just been born.” Reminding us that for us to be alive right now, we are an actual result of the hope our parents believed on (15-16). From the moment we are born, the truly meaning of hope is shown.
When hope comes to personal beliefs, it is impossible not to rely on it. Mueller writes “[…] It is the singular gift we cannot destroy in ourselves,” to focus on the fact that we are born with hope and we are a result for it. Therefore, we are not able to change or “destroy” that (17-18). The author encourages us to continue believing in hope by saying “[…] the argument that refutes death,” meaning that hope is not exactly what would make us think to give up (19-20). Conversely, if we have hope within us there is nothing stoppable.
We all have heard hope when we go to church and sometimes it may not sound relevant. For Mueller it is exactly the opposite, when she writes “[…] the genius that invents the future, all we know of God.” Making a biblical allusion to refer to the creator of hope, which is God and everything we ask to him in someway it is connected to hope (21-22).
To sum up, for Mueller hope is “[…]It is the serum which makes us swear not to betray one another;” making the inference of swear meaning again what we are taught in church and the ways we know when we are failing “betray” our belief in hope (23-24). Mueller finishes the poem writing “[…] it is in this poem, trying to speak.” (25). Even with words we can express hope and that is what Mueller wanted the audience to emphasize on.
Mueller’s poem leaves everyone with the need of looking inside of us and recall whether we truly believe in hope. She wants us to know if it is really within us. Sometimes we blind ourselves with what is perfectly illustrated in front of us. Mueller’s poem “Hope” gives us the opportunity to change our lives with a feeling as simple as hope is. Hope can be simple but at the same time so powerful for those who look on the right place.
Mueller, Lisel. “The Writer’s Almanac for April 4, 2017.” The Writer’s Almanac with
Garrison Keillor, www.writersalmanac.org/index.html?p=9768.html.
“The Poetry of Lisel Mueller.” Literary Cavalcade, vol. 51, no. 3, Nov. 1998, p.