Dust of Snow
By Robert Frost
· ‘Dust of Snow’ is an eight lines poem composed by Robert Frost, an American poet who is better known for his nature poems with realistic themes.
· It is a simple and short poem with a deeper meaning and wider perspective. It discusses how petty ways / trivial incidents / insignificant things can impact our life largely and may prove to be a turning point in our life.
· The poet conveys that the stereotypes / false beliefs must be discouraged as every entity in the universe has its value.
· Symbolically, snow is presented as cheerful and optimistic view of life whereas crow and hemlock tree are presented as gloomy or pessimistic attitude.
· Tone of the poem is philosophical and didactic as the poet conveys that every dark cloud has a silver lining. We should not give up hope even when we are surrounded by negativity.
Line by Line Explanation
Line 1-4 with rhyme scheme
The way a crow a
Shook down on me b
The dust of snow a
From a hemlock tree b
The poem opens with the poet, Robert Frost sitting under a hemlock tree possibly because he is dejected and disappointed due to some sad incident in his life. The poet doesn’t discuss the reason why he is dejected and in suicidal mood. Then, a crow inadvertently shakes the branch of the hemlock tree which was covered with snow as it was winter season. This simple action of crow made some particles of snow fall on the poet. The hemlock tree is presented here as the symbol of dejection and death and poet’s presence there conveys that he is so sad and dejected that he possibly wants to commit suicide. The crow denotes to this world’s stereotypes or fixed beliefs about certain creatures and objects. The common belief about a crow is that it is an ominous bird bringing bad news. Nevertheless, these two supposedly negative things are in touch with snow which is white, bright, pure and beautiful and is presented as the symbol of positivity and optimism. The poet tries to convey that man is so blind with his stereotypes that he fails to see the real worth of the things.
Line 5-8 with rhyme scheme
Has given my heart c
A change of mood d
And saved some part c
Of a day I had rued. d
In these lines, the poet undergoes a change of mood. When the particles of snow felled by crow touches the poet, it makes him see the worth of life and role of nature in healing human emotions and giving a helping hand in his difficult time. He muses why a man fails to understand that happiness and sorrow are two phases of life, if crow, hemlock tree and snow may exist together. The poet rethinks about the beauty of life and gives up his sad and suicidal thoughts. In fact, the poet goes through a transformation and decides that now he would not waste his life by regretting or feeling sad about any bad phase of life. He wants to teach us all that even the most insignificant thing or incident brings about a great change in our life. It depends on our perspective and the way we look at the things. However difficult phase of life we may be going through, there is always a ray of hope that the things will change.
Rhyme Scheme of the poem
Has given my heart – Alliteration
And saved some part – Alliteration
The dust of snow – Assonance
From a hemlock tree – Assonance
The way a crow shook down on me – Imagery
The dust of snow – Symbolism
From a hemlock tree – Symbolism
And saved some part – Consonance
Of a day I had rued – Consonance
Message of the poem
Sometimes, seemingly insignificant natural things or incidents do bring about a great change in our life. It depends on our perspective and the way we look at the things. However difficult phase of life we may be going through, there is always a ray of hope that the things will change. Even the darkest cloud has a silver lining in it. The message is clear enough that we need to inculcate an optimistic outlook in life and develop a positive frame of mind. There is also an underlying message that every entity of nature provides healing touch and extends helping hand towards mankind.
Important Question – Answers
Q. A simple moment proves to be very significant and saves the rest of the day of the poet from being wasted. Explain the statement on the basis of the poem 'Dust Of Snow'.
Ans. A crow is considered to be an ominous bird bringing bad news and hemlock tree is presented as the symbol of death, dejection and disappointment. The poet is buried in his sorrow that he fails to see the glistening and bright snow which is the symbol of brightness and positivity in life. When the dust of snow falls on the shoulder of sad poet, it is like a lightening among the dark clouds. Thus, the poet proved that the ominous and negative things like crow and hemlock can also be the instruments to bring cheer and positivity in life if we have right perspective and positive frame of mind. He teaches us to inculcate positive attitude and optimistic outlook in life.
Q. How has the poet used the dust of snow and crow as the symbols to steer clear of the stereotypes? How can positive attitude turn a problem into an opportunity and make the world a better place to live in?
Ans. Robert Frost condemns stereotypes which are fixed beliefs as they are not healthy for our belief system. For example crow is considered to be an ominous bird bringing bad news and hemlock tree is the symbol of death. The poet is so much engrossed in his sad thoughts that he fails to see the glistening and bright snow which is like a lightening among the dark clouds. But poet proved that the insignificant things like crow and snow can bring significant changes in our life. They can be the instruments to bring cheer and positivity in life if we have right perspective and positive frame of mind. He exhorts us to open our mind and see the worth of things however small or insignificant they are.
Video on Dust of Snow
Video on Dust of Snow