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An Essay on Poetry

Analysis of "The Snow Man" by

Wallace Stevens
The Snow Man

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.

Wallace Stevens poem The Snow Man was first published in 1921. Upon first glance,
the title gives insight into the poems meaning; it does not refer to a snowman but rather
to a snow man.
The poem opens with impersonal one which Stevens tries to embody both the author
and the reader and hide an anonymous, hidden speaker. One must is every reader,
every intellectual. Everyone is the subject of the poem.
Stanza1-One must have a mind of winter. One must have a cold precise, disciplined
mind. This imperative is the poems subject. The poems title and this first of five stanzas
set the tone wintry and difficult. The object scene, a snowman in the snow, and the
subject, a certain discipline of mind that leads to clear seeing.

Stanza2-Behold means to see clearly. Stevens notion of beholding gives purpose to

life: We must learn to see clearly and this way to learn the true nature. Stevens is
demonstrating in this poem a definite way to discipline the creative consciousness. To
see the world without embellishment .To see the world and its objects and its inhabitants
as they really are. The landscape that it seems is the landscape that the mind beautifully
decorates with language.
Stanza3-Stevens moves from the landscape descriptive to an aural mode, from an
object in space (to snow an trees to an object in time (the sound of the wind)
Stanza4-The instruction is to widen our perspective to rest our awareness on the whole
of being and critically when perceiving the world no matter how wintry the scene may be
nor to project our scene .IN short in order to see clearly keep the self out Stevens
encourages his reader to be with and disciplined enough to be cold enough to simply
hear the rain and not attribute to it our own private pain. This fourth stanza speaks of a
wind, a wind that dissolves boundaries between inner and outer , the wind of the land
the empty wind of the outside world.
Stanza5-Poem ends in a meditation thereupon

Syntax-Stevens poem is one run-on sentence with five stanzas of three lines each.
No rhyme scheme
Devices-Metaphor-There is a metaphor for snow man snow man represents the mindset of winter and is able to view the beauty of the land. Metaphor is used as a
comparison between a snow man, snow and man. Man is warm and intellectual, while
snow is cold and something that mean cannot change or control.
Tone-The tone of narrator is detached. Winter is shown to be a force that man cannot
reckon with and the narrator does not seem to want to try to defy the balance that nature
has created.
Theme-The theme is that in order for man to survive in the unrelenting winter
unemotional see only actuality able to see that the actuality implies nothing beyond while
nature is used to winter. Man couldnt survive and be in harmony with it
Diction-In the beginning of the poem words like behold and glitter give a positive image
and a sense of beauty of a scene then words like misery, bare and nothing there is a
negative tone of loneliness.
Conclusion-The narrator is trying to explain to his readers that the cold of winter will not
adapt to mankind, mankind needs to adapt to winter. The only way a person can avoid
depression in natures winter is to not snow emotions became nothing himself like snow
otherwise being stuck in such conditions would not be a pleasant experience for man
who is used to change his surrounds to suit his wants and needs.

Mirvete Hyseni