The Snow Man

The Snow Man

by Wallace Stevens 

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Summary of The Snow Man

  • Popularity of “The Snow Man”: Wallace Stevens, a great American modernist poet, wrote ‘The Snow Man’. It is one of the remarkable literary pieces about beauty and consciousness. It was first published in 1921. The poem reflects on how winter should be celebrated with full spring. It also illustrates that we should keep our emotions aside to adore the true beauty of nature
  • “The Snow Man” As a Representative of Natural Beauty: The poem is about the winter season. He suggests that we should have a positive mind to appreciate the beauty of pine trees, junipers, and spruces covered with sparkling snow. To adore these enchanting sights of nature, one must leave the miseries, harshness, and chaos of the world aside. We should not associate any pain, misery or sorrowful memories with the sound of the cold wind. To him, the wind is just the wind, it blows in the same way in bare places. Therefore, the listener should not associate any life experience with the howling winds of the winter. He further suggests that one should simply enjoy the solace, quietness, and peacefulness of the winter season. Here winter is compared to struggles and challenges. Since winter is also a beautiful season a person must not feel down. Similarly, we should remain calm and positive during any challenges we face.
  • Major Themes in “The Snow Man”: Man, the natural world, beauty, and emptiness are the major themes of this poem. The poem revolves around the winter season and there is no actual snowman in the poem. Rather, the poem presents an actual man standing in the midst of snow and enjoying the beauties of the winter season. Mostly, the winter season is associated with some bad experiences of life, but, in this poem, the speaker wants us to liberate ourselves from the clutches of the unruly world and enjoy the beauty of nature with a positive mind. He wants us to act like winter that is cool and objective, rather than trying to make winter follow the sad and miserable track of our lives.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Snow Man”

Literary devices are used to enhance the poem and make the readers understand the underlying meanings of a poem or a text. Wallace Stevens has also used these devices to bring richness to the poem. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /i/ in ‘For the listener, who listens in the snow’ and the sound of /a/ in ‘That is blowing in the same bare place’.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /l/ in ‘For the listener, who listens in the snow’.
  3. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, ‘nothing that is’ is repeated in the last line of the poem to emphasize the point of nothingness or temporary nature of snow.

“And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”

  1. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break and continues in the next line. For example,

“One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “To regard the frost and the boughs”, “Of the pine-trees crusted with snow” and “That is blowing in the same bare place.”
  2. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. The snowman symbolizes the observer in the snow and “winter” symbolizes the enchanting beauty of nature.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Snow Man”

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

  1. Free Verse: Free Verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free verse poem with no strict rhyme scheme or metrical pattern.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are five stanzas in this poem with each having three verses.
  3. Tercet: A tercet is a three-lined stanza borrowed from Biblical Hebrew poetry. There are five tercets in this poem.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about the enchanting beauty of nature and also appreciate the winter season. You can also use the below lines to teach more about seasons and changes in the plant kingdom.

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow.”