Dust of Snow by Robert Frost – Summary & Analysis

In Short

  • In “Dust of Snow”, the poet was on his way by a hemlock tree. Suddenly a crow dropped some snowflakes from the tree on the poet.
  • This small incident changed the poet’s sad mood and made him happy.
  • The poet conveys the message that even small things in our life can bring happiness. Moreover, bad times in life will lead to good times if we can persist with it.

Dust of Snow Explanation

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

The poem starts with a simple incident. It was winter season. The poet was walking by the side of a hemlock tree. As the poet passes by, all of a sudden, a crow shook the tree and some fine particles or flakes of snow from the tree fell on the poet.

Hemlock is a poisonous plant with small white flowers. This plant produces poisonous juice. The crow and the hemlock tree both signify sadness, gloom and misfortune. So, we are afraid, maybe something bad is going to happen with the poet.

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

We were wrong. The poet clears our doubt here. In this stanza, we come to know that the incident indeed changed something for the poet. But that is for the good. The fall of snowflakes from the tree uplifted the poet’s bad mood.

The poet was in a depressed state that day, though the reason is unknown. He had a regret (I had rued) in his mind that the whole day would go waste. But this small incident made him glad. It helped him enjoy the rest of the day.

Understandably, the poet then decided to forget the regrets of life and follow the path of healing of his inner soul.

Dust of Snow – Critical Commentary

The poem “Dust of Snow” by the American poet Robert Frost is a simple and short poem, yet with a deeper and larger meaning. This poem was published in his Pulitzer prize winning volume of poetry “New Hampshire”.

In the two-stanza poem of four lines each, Frost uses conventional rhyme scheme ‘abab cdcd’ and iambic diameter to give it a rhythmic effect.

We find alliteration (repetition of consonant sound in the beginning of nearby words) in “saved some part” and assonance (repetition of vowel sound in neighbouring words) in “shook down on me” and “from a hemlock tree”.

The poem has an ironical overtone. Though the crow is basically considered as a bad omen and the hemlock is associated with death, even they can bring positive vibes to the poet and make him cheerful. So, everything has something good in it if you can think positively.

Frost presents nature in a very different way here. Nature’s healing power is highlighted in this poem. Even though the crow is considered as evil and the hemlock stands for poison and toxicity, they can bring joy to someone’s mind. The poet wants to reiterate that everything in nature around us is beautiful. And we have to accept whichever way nature chooses to bless us. In Wordsworth’s words –

Nature never did betray
The heart that loves her.

Another underlying theme in the poem is the importance of small things in life. The poet depicts how small events can make significant changes in our life. Every small act in our life can illuminate our soul and motivate us. Instead of taking petty problems seriously, if we can take things positively, situations can change for better. Moreover, good times come after bad times if we can see through the tough phases.

Written by , Last updated on November 5, 2022