It’s been pretty snowy in Scotland for the past couple of days. Winter has officially arrived. The snow reminded me of what I regard as one of Wallace Steven’s best poems (if not, one of the best poems) 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.
The Snow Man comprises one long sentence split into five stanzas. It presents an objective image of rugged nature (“crusted”, “shagged”, “rough”) from the perspective of the inanimate snowman who has “a mind of winter”. In the third stanza the perspective shifts to an emotional (as opposed to objective) response of a human being, who thinks.
The sensory descriptions of the “misery in the sound of the land” intimates a feeling of loneliness as the listener beholds a repetitive “nothing”. The poem is called The Snow Man, representing both a snowman and a snow man. It is a complex and obscure poem – but a bit of complexity and obscurity in a poem is always welcome as far as I’m concerned…
Some more pictures of snowy Scotland….
Would love to hear your own interpretation of The Snow Man, or your snow stories!