By William Carlos Williams

years of anger following
hours that float idly down —
the blizzard
drifts its weight
deeper and deeper for three days
or sixty years, eh? Then
the sun! a clutter of
yellow and blue flakes —
Hairy looking trees stand out
in long alleys
over a wild solitude.
The man turns and there —
his solitary track stretched out
upon the world.

Summary of Blizzard

  • Popularity of “Blizzard”: Written by a popular African American poet, William Carlos Williams, this short poem first appeared in 1921. The poet and his community were undergoing the worst racial discrimination at that time. Therefore, he published a book of poetry, Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems, in which this poem was also included. The book was in response to that scenario of racial discrimination. The poem’s popularity lies in its ambivalence as well as the vacillation of meanings.
  • “Blizzard” As a Representative of Anger and Solitude: The poet beautifully presents snow, saying it seems as if the blizzard of snow has started like the anger of human beings that keep quiet but continue simmering for ages. However, the rhetorical question poses a challenge that time does not matter for both. Even if the sun when it is yellow in winter and flakes are blue and trees are full of snow, solitude rules the roost and man becomes utterly solitary for ages. The poet means that despite the weatherly transformation, man has always been alone, and he is still alone.
  • Major Themes in “Blizzard”: Seasons, man’s situation in the universe, and man’s emotions are central themes of this poem. The poet has opened the poem with the snow that he compares to human anger and subsequently to a blizzard. However, he stops short of linking all of them and presents another theme of the situation of the sun, the sunlight, and the trees during this snow to point out that man is always alone despite these weatherly changes. Then he states that it has happened throughout the history of mankind and perhaps would stay the same. Racial discrimination seems to have overpowered the poet, the reason that he is hellbent on expressing it through one or the other channel.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Blizzard

William Carlos Williams’s skills in using various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of this poem are perfect and excellent. Some of the major literary devices are as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ and /a/ in “deeper and deeper for three days” and the sound of /o/ in “hours that float idly down.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /r / in “years of anger following” and the sound of /t/ in “drifts its weight.”
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. William Carlos Williams used imagery in this poem, such as “hours that float idly down”, “Hairy looking trees stand out” and “over a wild solitude.”
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. The poet used the metaphors such as the hours, comparing them to birds and trees to men that look the solitude.
  5. Personification: It means to attribute human emotions to inanimate objects. The poet used the personification of the trees as if they have life and emotions of their own.
  6. Rhetorical Question: It is a device in which a question is asked not to get an answer but to emphasize the main idea. The poem shows the use of rhetorical questions such as “or sixty years, eh?”
  7. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as hours, blizzards, snow, years, and trees to show the impact of time, weather, and human life.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Blizzard

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows good use of informal and yet poetic diction.
  2. Free Verse: It means to write poetry without any rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. The poet used free verse in this poem.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. This is a single-stanza poem having fifteen verses.
  4. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a depressive, suggestive, and intellectual tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when talking about man’s status in this world.

The man turns and there —
his solitary track stretched out
upon the world.