English : First Flight

Chapter 1 Dust of Snow (Poem)

-by Robert Frost

Introduction

“Dust of Snow” is a short poem consisting of just two stanzas. However, the poem has got the beauty of a miniature painting. In the fewest possible words, the poet has given the details of a landscape. A snowladen hemlock tree, with a crow flying out of it, scattering the soft snow all over the poet passing by under the tree, make a perfect, balanced and complete winter landscape.

Explanation

Stanza- 1

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Explanation: The poet, Robert Frost, recounts a small incident that changes his mood. It seems very simple but it has a great significance. The poet was, once, very depressed and hopeless. He was in a state of sorrow and was lost in his thoughts. He was standing under the hemlock free. Suddenly a crow, that was sitting on the tree, shook the tree and the fine particles of snow from the tree fell on the poet.

Stanza- 2

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Explanation: When the soft and cold snow fell on the poet, it changed his mood from the state of sadness to happiness. He started feeling soothed (peaceful and refreshed. This simple incident helped him enjoy the remaining part of the day. He, thus, became happy as it saved his rest of the day from being wasted and held in regret.

Conclusion of Dust of Snow
The poem teaches us a lesson that every small act in life can illuminate our soul and motivate us to do better.

Summary

Dejected and depressed, in a very sullen and melancholic mood, the poet had spent a part of his day, feeling absolutely out of sorts and spirits when unexpectedly a seemingly small occurrence lifted the weight off his mind and made him expereince ajoyous mood.

The poet describes how when he was passing by under a snow-laden hemlock tree, a crow perched on it shook some flakes of snow which fell on him. This little incident brought about a big and positive change in his mood. The sudden contact with nature set in a strong sense of joy in the poet and made all his melancholy disappear.

Title

‘Dust’ is something that is modest, unassuming and humble, yet the poet has chosen to call the poem “Dust of Snow” in order to bring home the idea that it is not only glamour, grandeur and splendour of nature that fascinate the human mind; even its most humble, ordinary and simple aspects like a handful of snow have the capacity to deeply impact us. As the poem narrates how a handful of fine particles of snow falling on to the poet swept away all his melancholy and replaced it with joy and hope, the title is appropriate and well-chosen.

Theme

The small poem “Dust of Snow” in based on the idea that nature is a perennial source of joy. The poet reveals that contact with nature provides a healing touch and relieves us of depression, sadness and gloom. Even those objects of nature which we tend to treat as having negative, inauspicious associations can be effective in dispelling the gloom in a person’s mind. Therefore, the poem contains the idea that nothing in nature is ugly, inauspicious, or unpleasant. Even a crow, a handful dust of snow, and a poisonous tree like hemlock can be instrumental in turning melancholy into cheerfulness. The poem, thus emphasizes that sometimes seemingly insignificant events can bring about a significant change in our lives.

Message

The poem conveys the message that nature has a romance about it which can transform our mood and take away all the gloom from our spirits. Nature treats every creature and object impartially. Everyone and everything in nature has the power to impact the minds of human beings. Snow spreads itself all over evenly and it can make even an inauspicious crow and a poisonous tree like hemlock its instrument to set in a joyous mood, in a person burdened with tensions and sorrows.

The poem conveys another message that we should never lose hope and optimism, and never let gloom overpower our minds. Joys and sorrows are inevitable. Therefore, we must adopt an optimistic attitude towards life.

Literary Devices

Alliteration

  • Alliteration is the occurrence of the same sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. It creates a musical effect and enhances the pleasure of reading a literary work.
  • Examples:
    Has given my heart
    Here ‘h’ sound has been repeated.
    And saved some part
    Here the repetition of ‘s’ sound makes the line musical.

Enjambment

  • Enjambment as a literary device refers to the practice of running lines from one to the next without using any kind of punctuation marks to indicate a pause (full stop, comma etc.).
  • This poem is an excellent example of enjambment. Each of its lines runs on to the next without any punctuation mark and the thought ends with the last line. The full stop comes only at the end.

Symbolism

  • Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense. Generally, it is an object representing another, to give an entirely different meaning that is much deeper and more significant.
  • The poet has used Three symbols – ‘a crow’, ‘a hemlock tree’ and ‘a dust of snow’. All the three symbols are conventionally associated with sorrow. A crow is considered ugly and inauspicious which portends illfortune. A hemlock tree is poisonous and, therefore, has direct association with death and the snow represents hardships.
  • The poet has associated these negative symbols with his dark, depressed and gloomy mood. However, he makes these symbols instrumental in bringing about a deep, positive change in his mood.
  • The crow, while fluttering away from the hemlock tree makes some snow fall on the poet passing by. This contact with nature dispels the gloom of despair and sets in a positive and joyous mood.
  • The negative associations of the three symbols are, in this way, replaced by positive connotations.

Imagery

  • Imagery in poetry refers to the mental pictures or images which are evoked in the minds of the readers through words in a literary work.
  • Imagery makes a poem graphic and more appealing.
  • The small poem “Dust of Snow” is full of visual imagery of the winter landscape. It presents the landscape of the forest with snow-covered trees, a crow perched on the hemlock tree and a lonely traveller (the poet himself) passing by. The imagery corresponds with the mental state of the poet.

Rhyme Scheme

Each of the two stanzas in the poem “Dust of Snow” follow the same rhyme scheme i.e. abab.

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