Watch the video tutorial for the poem ‘Dust of Snow’ for explanation, word meanings and literary devices and cental idea of the poem.
Dust of Snow: SUMMARY
It is winter and the poet is upset and walking while he passes under the hemlock tree. A crow was sitting on the tree who, all of a sudden, shakes the tree and the fine particles of snow from tree fall on the poet. This fall of snow and its soft and cold touch changes the poet’s mood from sad to happy. He starts feeling soothed and refresh. In this way a simple moment proves to be very significant and saves rest of the day of poet from being wasted and held in regret. The poem teaches the lesson that the even small acts cause the man to have an enlightened insight.
Points of discussion:
The black crow is commonly a symbol of death and fear and is associated with bad omen but, yet, the poet shows the crow doing a good job of shaking the particles of snow.
The same is with the tree. Robert Frost didn’t choose to use an oak, maple or pine tree. No, instead he chose the hemlock tree which is usually associated with poison and toxicity.
Also, the dust or particles have no
value and no one wants dust or be like dust but the poet uses dust to be the
carrier of the stimulus that brings positive thoughts in mind.
The poem conveys a message for we human beings in a very simple language and with the help of a simple incident. The message is that the little things and incidents in life can make huge changes in our life. The simple things we do for others can make all the difference. Just think about those random acts of kindness we do and how much they brighten a person’s day and sometimes change their future. We should value even small things and be positive enough not to feel so much dejected that the life appears to be boring, dull or a waste.
Dust of Snow: Textbook Exercises
1. What is a “dust of snow”? What does the poet say has changed his mood? How has the poet’s mood changed?
A “dust of snow” means the fine particles of snow. The fall of “dust of snow” changed the poet’s mood. The poet’s mood changed from that of sadness to joy. He considered the day boring and sad. He was in regret when this dust of snow fell on him and this simple little happening changed his mood and he felt relaxed from a dull and sad day..
2. How does Frost present nature in this poem? The following questions may help you to think of an answer.
(i) What are the birds that are usually named in poems? Do you think a crow is often mentioned in poems? What images come to your mind when you think of a crow?
(ii) Again, what is “a hemlock tree”? Why doesn’t the poet write about a more ‘beautiful’ tree such as a maple, or an oak, or a pine?
(iii) What do the ‘crow’ and ‘hemlock’ represent − joy or sorrow? What does the dust of snow that the crow shakes off a hemlock tree stand for?
Frost has presented nature quiet differently. Instead of using birds such as nightingales or sparrows, Frost has used a crow in this poem. A crow is considered ugly. It is associated with something dark, black, and foreboding. That is why other poets usually mention singing nightingales or beautiful white doves in their poems.
Also, the poet mentions about the hemlock tree, which is a poisonous tree and bring death to life. He has not written about a more beautiful tree such as a maple, or oak, or pine because these trees symbolise beauty and happiness. Frost wanted to symbolise the feelings of sadness and regret, which is why he has used a hemlock tree.
The crow and the hemlock tree represent sorrow. The dust of snow that is shaken off the hemlock tree by the crow stands for joy that Frost experiences.
We can easily say that the poet has, gone unconventional in using tree and bird in order to contrast them with joy in the form of snow