Dust of Snow – Poetic Devices

Poetic devices used in the poem ‘Dust of Snow’ are given here. Only Major Poetic devices have been discussed here. Knowledge of these poetic devices will enhance the understanding the structure as well as ethos of the poem. It is better that we first study the poem and its theme and then go to the poetic devices.

Dust of Snow Class 10 English

Poem ‘Dust of Snow’

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

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

Theme of the Poem ‘Dust of Snow’.

‘Dust of Snow’ is a small poem written by the famous American poet, Robert Frost (1874 – 1963). The poem is set on a wintry day. In the first stanza, the poet describes a simple natural happening. The snow is falling heavily. The snowy flakes have covered the top of the trees. The poet is standing under a hemlock tree. The movement and alighting of a crow on that tree, make the dust of snowfall on the poet. The crow, a symbol of ill omen and the hemlock tree, associated with person, are not auspicious things. However, in the second stanza, the falling of snowy flakes and the scene leave a tremendous effect on the mental state and mood of the poet. So far, the day has been quite gloomy and a wastage for him. But this ordinary natural happening suddenly brings a desired change in his mood. It gladdens his heart. He realises that the falling of snowy flakes on him, has saved the day. Now he has no regret as the whole of the day has not gone waste. The moments of the snowfall, and their effect have saved the day. They have brought a change in his mood and gladdened and uplifted his spirits

Poetic Devices

Rhyme Scheme: abab

Imagery: Frost uses simple imagery like a crow scattering snow from hemlock tree, and ‘dust of snow’ falling on the poet to depict the positive effect of nature on the poet.

Alliteration: Alliteration is the occurrence of the same sound that is used in the beginning of the closely placed words.  

Has given my heart

• And saved some part

Symbolism: Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas by giving them symbolic meaning that is different from their literal meaning.  

The ‘crow’ and ‘hemlock tree’. The poet has used these as a symbol to show the emotions like dejection, gloom and depression. Also, he has used these as symbols to show that these ‘inauspicious’ things of nature can also change a person’s mood and mind. 

The poet is having a bad day and he is clear about that. However, to make us understand the severity of his sullen mood, he introduces us to the symbol of the hemlock tree. Hence, the hemlock tree, from which the poison is said to be made, is a symbol of death. The next symbol that the poet introduces to us is that of the crow. The crow is an ambiguous symbol and could stand for many things. Generally, the crow is considered to be the ugliest among all birds. Hence, it could be another sight to degrade the poet’s mood once again. 

Inversion: When the structure of a sentence is changed by the poet to create rhyme, the poetic license is called inversion. In stanza 1, the poetic device ‘inversion’ is used. 

Enjambment: In enjambment, the same sentence continues to the next line without the use of any punctuation marks.

This poem is very good example of this poetic device. It has been used throughout the poem. The lines oof stanzas flow to next line without any punctuations. 

Metaphor: This poetic device is used when a covert comparison is made between two different things or ideas. In this poem, the poet uses the device of metaphor in the 3rd line of the 1st stanza, when he compares the mass of snowflakes atop the hemlock tree with dust.  

Synecdoche: This poetic device is used in many ways to represent one thing with the help of an entirely different one. In this poem, the poet uses this device to represent the whole in the 1st line of the 2nd stanza. He says that his “heart” has undergone a change of mood because the crow has made the snowflakes from the hemlock tree rain down on him. However, he is now experiencing a better mood as a result of the actions of the crow. 

Assonance: the prominence of a vowel sound throughout a line is called assonance.  

In stanza 1, line 2, ‘‘Shook down on me’’, ‘O’ sound is prominent. 

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